“You have to understand what fighters our members are,” Ms. Pelosi told a group of columnists late last week. Indeed, she ascribed the Democrats’ political travails to their refusal to “play patty-cake” with powerful economic interests as they pursued a health care overhaul, new regulations for the financial industry and energy legislation capping carbon emissions…

Yet she insisted that she didn’t mind efforts to take aim at her; Republicans may be raising campaign funds through their “fire Pelosi” appeals, but “so am I,” she said. Nor, with her speakership on the line, does she object to Democrats in conservative districts appealing to their constituents by criticizing her.

“I say go for it,” Ms. Pelosi said. She would counsel those vulnerable Democrats, “Just win your election.”