Pelosi: Don’t blame me for the midterm disaster

Nancy Pelosi attempted to set the record straight in an NPR interview today about the reason her House caucus will be at least 60 members fewer in January.  It’s not her fault, Pelosi insists.  She’s just a victim of the economic environment that, er, her caucus spent nine months ignoring on their march to pass a bill that the majority of Americans didn’t want in the first place:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has the “overwhelming support” of fellow Democrats in her bid to become minority leader in the next Congress, and says she’s not to blame for the Democrats’ mid-term debacle.

“We didn’t lose the election because of me,” Ms. Pelosi told National Public Radio in aninterview that aired Friday morning. “Our members do not accept that.”

Instead, the California Democrat attributes the loss of at least 60 seats to high unemployment and “$100 million of outside, unidentified funding.”

“Any party that cannot turn (9.5% unemployment) into political gains should hang up the gloves,” she said.

Why won’t she step down and let fresh blood into Democratic leadership?  Because, that would mean that Republicans had won, or something:

We don’t let the Republicans choose our leaders and again, our members understand, they made me a target because I’m effective, politically and policy-wise.

Yes … and it worked, too, which is why the GOP would have demanded that Pelosi stay in position to let them do it again in 2012 if they had for a moment thought that Democrats would be foolish enough to seriously consider it.  If Republicans could choose the leaders for the House Democrats, they would not only have nominated Pelosi for Minority Leader but might have passed an exception to the rule and put Alan Grayson in as Minority Whip as well.

Not all Democrats are that foolish, though, and some of them are now targeting Pelosi’s power structure in addition to her campaign to keep leading her caucus.  Dan Boren wants the process for naming key leadership posts changed so that Pelosi can no longer stack the deck with her cronies and toadies:

Two new fronts opened up in the intraparty battle over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday, as Blue Dog Democrats trained their sights on the California Democrat’s power to appoint allies to influential party posts.

Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) told POLITICO he wants the Democratic Caucus to vote on new rules that would strip the party leader of her de facto power to appoint the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and her top lieutenants on the Steering and Policy Committee, which hands out legislative committee assignments and makes recommendations on other important party matters.

Boren was joined in the call for new rules governing the election of the DCCC chairman by Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.). Both are avowed foes of Pelosi’s bid to become minority leader after Democrats lost at least 60 seats and control of the House in last week’s mid-term election.

This is starting to turn into an ugly civil war on that side of the House, at a moment when Pelosi needs to keep her caucus together for a tough lame-duck session.  As more Democrats publicly announce opposition to her plans to continue in leadership, momentum will grow for her removal or at least stripping her position of the political clout she will need to survive.  That will impact her ability to shape legislation in the last few days of her tenure as Speaker, and if it does, the remaining caucus will have to decide whether a woman who led them into an unprecedented electoral defeat is really worth the trouble it will take to keep her in power.