Pelosi for Speaker!

Posted: Jan 07, 2011 9:38 AM
Pelosi for Speaker!

The other day, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), the new head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) (the organization which is charged with electing Democrats to the U.S. House) announced that the goal of the committee will be to "make Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the Speaker of the House again" according to The Hill newspaper.

Nancy Pelosi is so very, very popular that 19 of her colleagues - her DEMOCRAT colleagues - voted against her for Speaker when the House opened for business on Wednesday. They didn't vote for John Boehner (R-OH), they either voted "Present" or for some other Democrat, but not for Pelosi.

According to someone smarter than I, that was the most defections since 1913.

If you watched any part of that roll call vote, in which a reading clerk called each Member by name and they stood to announce their choice, you saw Mrs. Pelosi grinning like she needed a psychological evaluation every time a member of her caucus voted for someone else.

Back to Pelosi as the face of Congressional Democrats. In the run-up to the November elections, Gallup had Pelosi's job approval at what it called "a new low" of 29 percent. Fifty-six percent of Americans viewed her unfavorably.

Not only that, but Gallup reported in that October survey that "Nearly 6 in 10 independents now view her unfavorably." In that poll, 21 percent of independents had a favorable view of Mrs. Pelosi.

Pelosi is not without talent. After she announced she would run for Democratic Leader, she was faced with a real problem: The minority in the House has one fewer leadership slots than the majority, because the majority gets the Speaker.

There are four major slots for the majority: Speaker, Majority Leader, Majority Whip, Conference Chairman. (Republicans call themselves the "Republican Conference." Democrats refer to themselves the "Democratic Caucus.")

But the minority only has three. The issue Pelosi created by running for the top slot of Minority Leader was that Steny Hoyer (D-MD) would drop back from Majority Leader to Minority Whip. Caucus Chair, John Larson (D-CT) was running for re-election to that slot, which left the previous Majority Whip, James Clyburn (D-SC) without a leadership role.

Pelosi couldn't have the only Black member of the leadership relegated to the backbenches, so she invented the role of "Deputy Minority Leader" as a leadership position and had Clyburn elected to that previously non-existent post.

Pretty smart, actually, but way too inside baseball for most voters to appreciate.

Another problem for the Ds is a Gallup survey which shows only 31 percent of Americans self-identify as Democrats. Twenty nine percent self-identify as Republican, but those pesky independents - only 21 percent of whom enjoy the notion of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker - made the difference in the November elections.

If Steve Israel would promise to hold to the strategy of a two-year campaign promising the return of the Speaker's gavel to Nancy Pelosi, I will donate money to the DCCC for him to make those ads.