A moment of shame for not just failing to reverse House losses for Democrats, but presiding over even more failure? Not exactly. Perhaps alone among Democratic leaders at the moment, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) plans to leave his current position after a gigantic midterm defeat and the second cycle in a row in which House Democrats failed to get back into the majority. But Israel isn’t exactly offering up a mea culpa with this resignation — he wants a seat in caucus leadership:
Following Democratic setbacks in the midterms, Rep. Steve Israel said he has turned down House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s appeal to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman for a third time.
The New York congressman will not run the party’s congressional campaign operations for the 2016 elections and is instead eyeing a spot in House Democratic leadership,Newsday reported Wednesday.
“I’ve been really clear with Leader Pelosi that I would like to continue to have a seat at the leadership table, because it makes me more effective,” Israel said.
On one hand, the really large losses came in 2010, when Chris Van Hollen ran the DCCC. Van Hollen, a protege of Nancy Pelosi, left shortly afterward in favor of Israel. Israel, though, hasn’t impressed even while having almost nowhere to go but up. Despite having Barack Obama at the top of the ticket and a favorable turnout in 2012, Israel only clawed back eight seats from the Republican majority of 49. Even just among the races that have been confirmed, Republicans have now exceeded their 2010 level, and will probably have more than 250 seats in the House when all is said and done. That will give them their best majority in decades.
Newsday has a closer look at Israel’s flop:
Republicans exceeded their goal of winning a net 12 seats from Democrats by three, giving them their biggest House majority since the 1940s. The DCCC lost 11 of the 24 Democratic seats they spent millions of dollars to defend, and picked up only a few Republican seats.
Even in Israel’s backyard, Republicans gained three New York State Democratic seats, including that of Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), and failed to beat Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) despite his federal indictment.
And yet, on that record, Israel wants Democrats to make him one of their top leaders for the next two years. That would sound even more ridiculous if it weren’t for the spectacle of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid demanding to retain their positions even after six years of declines in their own caucuses. Pelosi wasted no time in declaring her intention to remain House Minority Leader, with her lieutenant Steny Hoyer by her side:
Despite the drubbing handed to the Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections, party leaders in congress have announced that they are seeking to retain their positions.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer both sent letters to their Democratic colleagues Wednesday, announcing their respective bids to retain their posts.
Harry Reid wants to keep running his caucus into the ground, too — and Senate Democrats don’t appear ready to stop him:
Harry Reid will run for Senate minority leader, and it appears he will have no significant opposition.
Senior Senate Democratic aides said Tuesday night that Reid would have the full support of his entire leadership team, despite his party incurring huge losses on Election Night.
In the past, this kind of abject failure would create a demand for accountability and new leadership to replace those who created it. These days, accountability and responsibility matter much less than entitlement and privilege, at least among Democratic circles, and not just at the White House. In that environment and under these circumstances, it makes perfect sense for Democrats to reward Israel’s epic failure with an even higher leadership position. They’d better get used to failure, though, because that which gets rewarded gets repeated.