So says Politico, which seems rather odd, since Barack Obama has ceded most of his legislative agenda to Nancy Pelosi’s authority. Mike Allen and Patrick O’Connor says Pelosi and her allies on Capitol Hill have building resentments over the “cavalier” attitude displayed by Obama to legislators. If by “cavalier” they mean disengaged and rudderless, that might make sense, but Pelosi has the least grounds for complaint:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s increasingly public disagreements with President Barack Obama are a reflection of something deeper: the seething resentment some Democrats feel over what they see as cavalier treatment from a wounded White House.
For months, the California lawmaker has been pushing Obama hard in private while praising him in public. But now she’s being more open in her criticism, in part because she feels the White House was wrong — in the wake of the Democrats’ loss in Massachusetts — to push the Senate health care bill on the House when she knew there was no way it would pass.
Earlier this month, Pelosi criticized the president’s State of the Union call to exempt defense spending from a budget freeze. And in a White House meeting with leaders of both parties this week, she questioned the effectiveness of his plan to give small businesses tax breaks to hire workers.
The resentment appears to be coming from the White House insistence on passing the Senate version of ObamaCare, the Senate version of a jobs bill, and so on. The reason for this pressure is that the House keeps passing more radical versions of legislation, thanks to the leadership of Nancy Pelosi. One might expect the leadership in both chambers to work out these differences in advance, or for the White House to start having the Senate to take the lead on generating the legislative language. Instead, despite having commanding majorities in both chambers and the White House in their grasp, the result has been gridlock and an angry, mobilized opposition.
Nor is the only flash point between Pelosi and Obama. House Democrats have had enough of their colleagues in the upper chamber dictating terms to them. The House leadership has been told by Rahm Emanuel to “twist arms” to get the Senate version of ObamaCare passed, but Politico’s sources say it’s just not possible to twist over 100 arms, the size of the progressive caucus in the House angered by the loss of the public option and the surtax on the rich.
David Axelrod goes on the record in blaming the tension on the Great Recession, saying that an anti-incumbent impulse and policy tensions would arise in any case under these circumstances. That ignores the problems that Democrats have had in convincing their own members to support some of the big-government, nanny-state programs pushed by the Obama administration and left to Pelosi to draft. The magic 60-vote level in the Senate should have allowed Democrats to move forward with a centrist agenda with little difficulty. The fact that the agenda has both failed in Congress and alienated voters while creating internecine fighting shows that the radical nature of the agenda is to blame, and not the economic climate that Democrats have ignored for a year.
In other words, pass the popcorn. This won’t go away soon.