Democrats have been playing a double game for the past several months when it comes to Nancy Pelosi.
On the one hand, they have won special elections for Congress by running candidates who pledge not to vote for Pelosi as Speaker of the House.
On the other hand, they happily spend the millions that Pelosi raises for them, and quietly endorse her campaign to win back the Speaker’s gavel she lost when voters tossed them out in the 2010 election.
This week, that endorsement was no longer quiet. California’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the heir apparent to Jerry Brown as governor, and the former mayor of Pelosi’s adopted hometown of San Francisco, publicly declared his loyalty to Pelosi on Wednesday. We must “put Nancy Pelosi back in the speakership,” he declared, as he accepted Brown’s endorsement at a “unity” rally at Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento.
Newsom backed Pelosi in a week when she reminded voters just how partisan she is. She blasted the good news about the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years, and trashed President Donald Trump for his North Korean summit. She also called for “uprisings all over the country” to protest the administration’s policies on immigration.
It is true that Democrats have few other alternatives. The party lacks new leaders — thanks, in part, to Pelosi boxing them out. A report this week in The Hill detailed the frustration felt by many Democrats, quoting one strategist who wants Barack Obama to return to the fray, even at the risk of motivating Republicans to vote: “There’s f—ing no one else … Bill Clinton is toxic, [former President] Carter is too old, and there’s no one else around for miles.”
But Newsom’s endorsement means that Democrats can no longer pretend they are simply stuck with Pelosi. He did not have to back her: he is running for state, not federal, office (though presidential ambitions certainly beckon).
The “progressive” wing of the party, to which Newsom is loosely linked, would certainly have forgiven him. He has earned the support of the “Berniecrats” through his support for gay rights, gun control, and single-payer health care.
And more leftists are starting to see Pelosi as an obstacle, not a friend. Last year, amnesty activists disrupted a Pelosi press conference in San Francisco and accused her of selling out by focusing on the “Dreamers.” Pelosi has also disappointed the left by trying to suppress talk of impeachment.
Even as left-wing billionaire Tom Steyer has spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising to promote impeachment, Pelosi has made it clear that she does not support the idea — at least not until after Democrats are in control. It seems Newson could easily have snubbed her.
Moderates — those few that are left in the Democratic Party — would also have applauded had Newsom chosen to reject Pelosi in favor of a leader who is not promising to raise taxes and stop the roaring Trump economy.
But Newsom threw in with Pelosi. He put her on the November ballot — and not just in her San Francisco district.
Pelosi’s friends in the mainstream media have done a good job of whitewashing her past and re-casting her as the master tactician who, at 78, has led her party to defeat and yet survived.
Few today remember that after promising to “drain the swamp” in 2006, Pelosi backed the corrupt Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) as her deputy. Few remember how she centralized power, and said Congress had to pass Obamacare so voters could “found out what is in it.”
Democrats hope that amnesia continues. Special elections aside, they are “all in” for Nancy Pelosi.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.