Pelosi and her allies devoutly believe the greater fault lies with the White House. For a better part of the year, they have been quietly laying the groundwork for the argument that the Obama forced members to take tough votes, then failed to build and maintain adequate public support for the Democratic agenda.
This is a commonly expressed though private resentment that got rare public expression recently from one of Pelosi’s most vocal lieutenants, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who complained in a POLITICO interview that the West Wing “failed to defend her and her accomplishment s” and in the process hurt themselves.
In addition to this backward-looking argument over who’s to blame, there is also a forward-looking calculation that is similarly rooted in suspicion of the White House.
Many congressional liberals expect Obama to try a latter-day version of Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” strategy from the 1990s, in which he positioned himself as the sensible center between congressional Democrats and Republicans. Congressional Democrats fear that Obama may likewise be tempted to cut some deals with Republicans on the budget or other issues.