If anyone needs a drink right now, it may well be 74 year-old House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who by all accounts gets to keep a job she’s now failed at for two election cycles. But she no longer seems to inspire much confidence among her colleagues.
The 74-year-old Pelosi’s hold on power seems secure, but buy-in from her conference is shaken.
Pelosi has always had her detractors but that some are now speaking out is a marked change and doesn’t bode well for her grip on power – even if she can retain it for now.
Democrats in the House have quietly grumbled about Pelosi since suffering devastating losses on Election Day, but there is a growing number of members willing to go public on their party leaders.
Some of the grumbling is focused on her refusal to allow Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth to make use of proxy voting, despite her current circumstances.
A routine internal debate over proxy voting for the ranking member posts — it hasn’t been allowed in decades — turned into national news because Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled war veteran expecting her first child soon, won’t be allowed to cast her vote since she can’t travel back to Capitol Hill. The vote has led to some bitter feelings on both sides of the dispute. And Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel is being pressed over whether he was totally honest with his colleagues over the electoral peril they faced.
Pelosi is dismissing the criticism but there is clearly politics involved. That some are beginning to call her on it suggests they don’t fear her, as they may once have.
Pelosi raised eyebrows last week when she emerged as a leading opponent of Duckworth’s request, not least because the California liberal has made women’s empowerment issues — including efforts to bolster family leave for working women — a central plank of the Democrats’ policy platform.
Her decision also led to speculation from some Democratic aides that the move was designed, at least in part, to help Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) win her race against Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) for the ranking member spot on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.
Pelosi has enthusiastically endorsed Eshoo, a close ally, despite Pallone’s seniority on the panel, and Duckworth had vowed to back Pallone.
It was JFK who said, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” For now, Pelosi remains atop her caucus in the House but, as the Mother of all defeats times two, it’s uncertain just how long she may stay there. If nothing else, the division and infighting has to be giving the Republican opposition something to smile about. For too long the media seemed focused on their own intra-party squabbles, while mostly ignoring them on the other side of the aisle.