Why Democrats should keep Pelosi

Since Pelosi intends to stay—“she’s a fighter,” says an aide—regardless of whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea, the White House can dust off the strategy of triangulation, a legislative dance that President Clinton performed after losing the House and Senate in ’94, when he negotiated a welfare-reform bill with Republicans to the chagrin of liberal Democrats, ending the federal guarantee of assistance to poor children and shifting responsibility to the states. Obama has sounded notes of conciliation in the wake of the midterm pounding, and Democrats worry that he is prepared to yield too much ground to the newly empowered Republicans. That’s where Pelosi comes in: she could stiffen Obama’s spine, as she did during the health-care fight, and liberals will cheer her on. But what Democrats need to see is a calculated strategic plan to retake the House, in the same methodical way that Republicans wrested back their majority in just four years. Because Republicans also solidified their hold on legislative chambers and statehouses in last week’s elections, they have a good shot at locking in their majority through redistricting and increasing the number of seats Democrats will need to regain power to one that’s out of reach, at least in the short term.