Monday, March 19, 2018
The Pelosi Problem
Conor Lamb's recent victory in Pennsylvania's 18th CD has added to talk about replacing Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader in the House, but the talk is nothing new. While some on the left see Pelosi as too "establishment," likely to impede an aggressive progressive agenda if Democrats regain control of the House, the main objection to Pelosi's leadership is more practical: she is seen as a drag on the party's electoral prospects because Republicans have falsely branded her as wildly radical; an "enemy of traditional American values."
Using thirty-second spots like this one, Pelosi has been demonized. The thrust of the campaign is that she is a "San Francisco liberal" — and while young people may think of San Francisco as the home of tech billionaires, much of America still associates San Francisco with hippies, the Haight, and free love. More important, though, is that Pelosi is a Person With A Vagina — a tough, aggressive PWAV of the variety that makes more conservative voters very uncomfortable. A male member of Congress willing to "take orders" from such a woman, it is understood, must be less than a man.
Tough and aggressive, Pelosi is a very effective leader: if getting a bill though Congress were the criterion, Obamacare more properly would be called Pelosicare. Republicans fear Pelosi (in much the same way the Russians feared Hillary Clinton.) If the Democrats regain control of Congress, and Pelosi becomes Speaker again, she will be no less effective than she was in the past.
There are many good reasons to end the Washington gerontocracy, but the leading candidates to replace Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Joseph Crowley, are just as old. If Democrats replace Pelosi, they will be knuckling under to the Republican defamation campaign— not acting out of any sense of "principle." She was ready to retire had Hillary Clinton become President, and she will be no less willing if the Democrats can regain the White House in 2020. In the meanwhile, she is a better leader than anybody likely to replace her.