Nancy Pelosi: ‘The Tea Party Empowers’ Dems

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Washington, DC

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tells Politico the “Tea Party empowers us.”

But what she was really saying is that former Speaker John Boehner was so weak, his failure to craft and submit legislation a majority of Republicans could back often put Pelosi in the position of calling the shots in the House.

In fact, Boehner’s weakness became Pelosi’s greatest source of strength. His inability to corral the 40-member Freedom Caucus eventually cost him his job. But it meant that Republican leaders repeatedly needed Pelosi to pass critical legislation — to keep the government open, reform Medicare and pass a major budget deal, to name just a few examples.

The fact is, the Democrats were “trounced” in the mid-terms because Republicans like Boehner promised they would stand up to Obama and the Democrats. Lost in this report is that many of the Freedom Caucus members were elected in the same mid-terms that left the Democrats so weak in the House.

But instead of taking up the ball and running with it after those same mid-terms, Boehner played D.C. politics as usual, fumbling his power and the ball back into Democrat Pelosi’s hands.

Unlike Boehner, she had the strength to run with it and is now traveling the country raising money, while Boehner is out of a job.

Last November her political career was, by all measures, sputtering. She and her party had just been trounced in the midterm elections, falling deeper into the House minority than they’d been in 80 years. Chatter was building within the Democratic Caucus that it was time for new blood atop a caucus led by three 70-something lawmakers.

What newly installed Speaker Raul Ryan does now remains unclear – many conservatives are skeptical. Once again, Republicans should be emboldened as conservative did so well in this year’s elections. Via the Washington Post: From coast to coast, conservatives score huge victories in off-year elections.

THE BIG IDEA: Just like the midterms one year ago, it was another awful night for Democrats.

So far Paul Ryan has talked a good game, whether he delivers, or delivers up power to Pelosi as Boehner did, remains to be seen.

Newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan is vowing to break that pattern — no more votes on legislation, he promised GOP lawmakers, that a majority of them don’t back. Pelosi has as much riding on his successfully keeping that promise as anyone: It will determine whether she recedes to the usually weak role of minority party leader or continues to play kingmaker.