“President Obama’s failure to channel the anxieties of ordinary voters has shaken the faith that many Democrats once had in his political gifts and his team’s political skill…
“‘There doesn’t seem to be anybody in the White House who’s got any idea what it’s like to lie awake at night worried about money and worried about things slipping away,’ said retiring Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). ‘They’re all intellectually smart. They’ve got their numbers. But they don’t feel any of it, and I think people sense that.’…
“Still, Democrats remain divided between their moderate and liberal wings over whether the president should continue to push hard with his agenda or move to the center to try to accommodate the Republicans in Congress.
“What could turn that tension to open warfare within the party is the decision of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to run for the job of minority leader in the next Congress, despite the fact that she had become a symbol of what Republicans called big-government overreach.”
“In a letter sent to fellow Democratic lawmakers Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California expresses confidence that she will be elected minority leader and calls for the party to “further modernize” and “communicate” the message that helped them win the House in 2006…
“Her focus on message implies that Democrats lost at least 60 seats and the House because of a failure to communicate effectively about the agenda the party delivered rather than public disapproval of the policies. It’s an argument that may resonate well with House Democrats who blame the White House for not putting enough energy into honing and promoting public relations campaigns in support of major legislative items.
“‘In addition, we must build the capacity for effectively communicating our message of job creation and opportunity for all, while supporting our signature achievements of health care, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare,’ she wrote. ‘In the 2006 election with our ‘New Direction’ and ‘6 for 06’ message, we spoke with great clarity and unity — and we won. Now, we must further modernize not only that message but the way in which we communicate with constituents.'”
“House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Sunday that Democrats ‘just didn’t get the message from the voters this election’ if they make Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) their next majority leader.
“‘I mean, the voters outright rejected the agenda that she’s been about. And here they’re going to put her back in charge,’ Cantor, in line to become the House majority leader in the next Congress, said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’…
“‘Yeah, I don’t think there’s any question that this says to the voters, ‘We’re not listening to you. We think we’re right. We’re going to continue the same path,” Cantor said.”
“[I]dentity politics is absent when she’s asked point blank why the Republicans attacked her so fiercely.
“‘Because I’m effective,’ she answers matter-of-factly. ‘It’s why they had to do it. They had to put a stop to me because we were effective in passing health-care reform, which the health insurance industry wanted to stop; Wall Street reform, which Wall Street wanted to stop; [reforms of] students loans for taking the money out of the banks and giving it back to the taxpayer and to families.’
“And in what might be read as a reminder of why she should remain as leader, she adds: ‘I’m one of the most effective fundraisers that the Congress has had . . . because I believe in something.'”
“How can you preside over the biggest ass-whupping since 1938 and keep your job? You can’t. Simple…
“I’m not sure this is a disaster. I am sure it’s a missed opportunity. When your house gets burned like that, you slap a fresh coat of paint on it. And I bet it’s happening because some liberal grassroots groups, like Americans United for Change, which does good work on health care and Social Security and so on, got in the middle of an intraparty fight that as far as I can see has little to do with ‘change’ and in fact quite a lot to do with the status quo – a status quo that just lost 65 seats…
“It doesn’t matter whether she’ll be good or merely bad or spectacularly bad. What matters is, you lose 65 seats, you resign. Period. There should not be a question.”
“Getting one bill passed is close to impossible. Ask any kid who has spent a summer in Washington, or better yet a semester, and can’t understand how people tolerate its menu of constant frustration. Imagine mastering it. She did. Imagine keeping all the independent contractors marching in the same direction when their jobs are at stake. You could say she made it hard, but you have to admit the Republicans did not at any point make it easy.
“Some day, when our kids or grandkids take it for granted that everybody has a card that allows them to get health care when they’re sick, maybe she’ll be remembered as courageous. Even today, you aren’t going to convince me that Democrats would have fared better in this election if they had nothing to show for the last two years.
“Between pushing his plan through and failing to get it through, you’ll be hard-pressed to convince me that Pelosi should be blamed for doing the former instead of the latter.”***