Dems wonder: Should we replace our wizened, widely hated leadership with younger, more appealing pols?

And so, my friends, the time has come for yet another Scooby Doo mystery.

Today’s episode: “The Case of the Alienated Swing Voters.”

A younger generation of Democrats is chafing at being asked to stand aside and let a triumvirate of elders keep their leadership positions in the wake of a catastrophic midterm election result…

Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.), among others, were all seen as top contenders to move up but have found themselves in limbo as Pelosi locks down the minority-leader post and Hoyer and Clyburn vie for whip. Becerra is trying to hold on to the vice chairmanship of the caucus, while Van Hollen, the campaign chief appointed by Pelosi as assistant to the Speaker, is for now on the outside looking in. He is now seeking the top Democratic position on the House Budget Committee…

“We can’t let them sit on the bench for too much longer,” one Democratic aide said, referring to the party’s younger lawmakers. “There’s a push to add in some new ideas and new faces and new energy.”…

Others said Pelosi had won the right to lead the caucus next year through her performance as Speaker. “She’s taken us this far,” Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said.

It’s quotes like that last one that make me think, yeah, maybe they really do need grief counselors to help them process what happened last week. But only some of them. Others do indeed see things clearly now:

Pelosi announced Friday that she’s running for minority leader in the new Congress, and her election still seems on track. But a movement by conservative Blue Dogs to block her ascent has picked up support from some liberals and even a handful of longtime Pelosi allies, who question whether she is best person to lead the battered party in the House.

At least 15 Democrats have said publicly that they have lost faith in her ability to lead — a number backed up by as many as two dozen more who are indicating the same thing privately, while others haven’t yet taken sides…

If she’s able to stay atop the Democratic Caucus, she won’t be in control of it — at least not the way she used to be. The drip-drip-drip of public defectors demonstrates that some of her troops no longer fear the repercussions of challenging her authority. And some clearly see political benefit in publicly thumbing their nose at the unpopular outgoing speaker.

An excellent point at the end there, which reinforces the one I made yesterday about how anyone can expect Pelosi to have the same sway over the next crop of Blue Dogs down the road when Democrats start winning swing districts again. She’s not going to be an 800-pound gorilla within the caucus after losing 60 seats. Just ain’t happening, and it’s also not the case that she’s some sort of electoral genius who engineered the Democrats’ big House gains in 2006 and 2008. She was the prime beneficiary, but the architects of those waves were Rahm Emanuel and of course George W. Bush. Not even liberals would deny — I hope — that most of the Democratic wins in those cycles were due to disgust/fatigue with Dubya plus smart politics by the DCCC in recruiting centrist Dems to steal purple districts. Pelosi’s talent was in using those gains to push through the legislation that’s so endeared her and her party to the electorate this year. Now that that job is done, there’s no reason to keep her. Except, of course, to pay homage and to spite the wingnuts, even as people like Becerra and Van Hollen wither on the vine. Oh well. Your funeral, libs.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on March 20, 2023