We didn’t get to spray the champagne on Tuesday because, after all, the results weren’t about us. As everyone from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner on down recognizes, the election was, in P.J. O’Rourke’s words, a “restraining order” on the Democrats, not a vote of confidence in the GOP. No corks a-poppin’ under those circumstances, no matter how pleased we might have been with the outcome.
Today, though? Poppin’.
House Republicans expressed jubilation on Friday over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to stay in Congress and seek the job of minority leader…
“The Democrats’ gift to Speaker Boehner: Pelosi as Minority Leader,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a deputy whip, on Twitter. “I endorse Nancy Pelosi for Minority Leader.”…
“Given that there are now 60-plus defeated Democrat House members urgently seeking jobs due to Nancy Pelosi’s failed leadership, we welcome her decision to run for House Minority Leader based on her proven ability to create jobs for Republican lawmakers,” said National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) communications director Ken Spain.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result,” Spain added.
Here’s her letter to the caucus. Tom Maguire saw my post about this yesterday and commented this morning that it couldn’t possibly be true, that surely Pelosi was calling around to House Democrats simply to stump for any deputies running in the new leadership campaign. And reading it, I thought, “Yeah, he’s right. What the hell was I thinking?” Surely, surely the left wasn’t about to re-coronate the most unpopular major politician in the country as the face of their caucus, not right after the biggest election landslide in decades. And yet, here we are. Short of Obama walking up to the podium on Wednesday and flipping the bird to the cameras, I can’t think of a clearer way to signal that Tuesday’s message has emphatically not been received.
Rest assured, grassroots lefties will defend this as a perfectly sensible idea, not because it is a sensible idea but because (a) one way to salve the grievous wound inflicted a few days ago is to deny those darned wingnuts their most prized scalp and (b) they feel they owe Pelosi for making their eternal dream of ruinous universal health care come true. So prepare for lots of self-deluding rationalizations about this over the next few days: She’s a really good fundraiser and she really understands how the House works and it’s really important to motivate eternally disgruntled, whining progressives, blah blah blah. You would think, given that we’re destined for gridlock over the next two years, that this would actually be an ideal moment for Democrats to usher in new, younger leadership so that they can learn the ins and outs of the job without having to worry about damaging screw-ups. But no, better to indulge Nancy’s ego in thinking that she’s indispensable than do something that might appeal to voters and prepare the next generation to run things effectively down the line.
Honestly, in a year dominated by fiscal conservatism, anti-incumbent sentiment, and hostility to all things Beltway, I can’t think of a more perfectly tone-deaf gesture than this. The next time some sneering liberal has the balls to tell you that the GOP is “out of touch” and doesn’t listen to voters, you need only whisper the magic word to shut them up tight: “Pelosi.” I’ll leave you with this famous line from a very famous movie, which I thought of as soon as I heard the news today. Not quite as good as “the definition of insanity” bit quoted above, but apt nonetheless: “If it was anybody else, I’d say what’s going to happen to you would be a lesson to you. Only you’re going to need more than one lesson. And you’re going to get more than one lesson.”