Ocasio-Cortez: These Democrats opposing Pelosi as Speaker don't seem very progressive

C’mon, when are we going to find out the details of the secret deal between these two?

Or is Ocasio-Cortez waiting until Nancy is successfully elected Speaker before nudging her about a quid pro quo?

It’s true, as she says, that the 16 Dems who signed the letter yesterday opposing Pelosi’s Speakership aren’t from the caucus’s left wing. It’s not true that no one’s attacking Pelosi from the left, though. Marcia Fudge, the Ohio congresswoman who’s thinking about challenging her, hit her hard in an interview recently:

“I don’t have a pitch because at this point I’ve not decided I’m going to run,” Fudge said, “but I would say this: My concern about the caucus is the same concern I have about the country. Just as there is this undertone of racism in the country, there’s also that in our caucus.”

Fudge pointed to Pelosi’s refusal to endorse in the race for majority whip, a contest between the current No. 3 Democrat ― and CBC stalwart ― Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

“But she wants our endorsements?” Fudge said of Pelosi. “Who has she endorsed?”…

Fudge ventured that one of the reasons people don’t like Pelosi is because “they see her as an elitist.”

I did not foresee “Pelosi’s a racist” joining the arguments against the status quo. But who am I to discourage a left-wing circular firing squad from assembling?

Perry Bacon makes an excellent overlooked point about AOC’s aid to Pelosi in the Speaker fight. The rhetorical support she’s given her over the past week is really just gravy. Her real gift to Nancy came a few months ago, when she shocked the world by knocking off Joe Crowley in her congressional primary.

Crowley of New York, who is the House Democratic Caucus chair, the No. 4 post in the party hierarchy, was taking steps to make a run for speaker if it became clear that Pelosi didn’t have enough support. He has the right resume: He’s a longtime member, he’s already on the leadership team, he has a mainstream ideology (he votes with the president’s positions at a pretty average rate for House Democrats according to our Trump Score), and he’s significantly younger (56) than Pelosi (78), whose critics have highlighted her age.

But Ocasio-Cortez beat Crowley in a huge upset in a June primary. That left the No. 2 Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and the No. 3 Democrat, James Clyburn of South Carolina, as the main alternatives to Pelosi among top party leaders. Hoyer is 79. Clyburn is 78.

Crowley was the Speaker-in-waiting, the potential compromise candidate if the caucus deadlocked on Pelosi. Ocasio-Cortez swept him away. Now here she is, the most celebrated “next-gen” congresswoman-elect in the country, having just turned all of 29 years old, wondering what the benefit is in replacing a team of geriatrics that’s been in place for more than a decade with younger, fresher faces. Her ideological concern is fair enough: It’s not a win for the socialist wing if Pelosi is pushed out for a 50-year-old centrist. But given the party’s leftward drift, the crop of formidable progressive senators who are about to launch presidential bids, and the messaging muscle of people like Ocasio-Cortez herself, it’s highly unlikely that the caucus would settle on a “conservative” Democrat as Speaker. Frankly, I wonder if Crowley’s hypothetical bid would have ended up being sunk on grounds that, as a middle-aged white guy, he too no longer “looks like the party.” (That partly explains why he lost his primary, in fact.) If Pelosi’s going to be ousted, it’ll almost certainly be by a candidate who’s a woman and/or a minority, as Fudge is, and with whom the progressive wing is comfortable.

I made this point a few days ago but will re-up it, since AOC is wondering why change for the sake of change is good. Answer: Because Dems have a two-year window right now where nothing important will be signed into law. The Republican White House and Republican Senate aren’t about to rubber-stamp single-payer. That being so, it’s an opportunity for Democrats to elect new leaders and let them get some experience in managing the caucus ahead of 2021, when they might be in a position to enact their agenda. New leadership would be a nice contrast for them in 2020 too with Republicans countering with stale faces like Trump and McConnell. The nicest thing you can say about Pelosi electorally is that she’s not so heavy an anchor as to prevent the party from winning 30+ House seats when an unpopular Republican president is in office. But that’s like “complimenting” Trump by noting that he isn’t so heavy an anchor as to prevent the GOP from cleaning up in an election where Hillary Clinton is atop the Democratic ballot. Just because you win doesn’t mean you’re the strongest hand your party can play. Exit question via Fudge: “If we’re going to give her credit for the wins, why is she not responsible for all the losses?”

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