If Pelosi Goes Who Would You Like To See As Leader, Crowley, Hoyer Or Wasserman Schultz?
I gradually stopped being a fan of Nancy Pelosi’s. I went from an admirer to a detractor primarily because of how she ran the DCCC — an utter catastrophe for Democrats — and because she imperiously declared an impeachment investigation of Bush was “off the table” after the Democrats won back the House. But my anger towards her has built slowly as the DCCC leaders she appointed went from bad to worse — and lost more and more House seats.
But, I’m not foolish enough to get onboard the train that is most eager to displace her — the New Dem/Blue Dog choo choo — i.e., the Republican wing of the Democratic Party — salivating at any prospect of kicking her and her progressive core values to the curb. She may be terrible, but everyone lined up to replace her is much, much, much worse. How many times do I have to say “much” to get the point across?
K Street wants their man Steny Hoyer. Wall Street wants their man Joe Crowley. Those are the two most likely successors and Wall Street would as happily settle for Hoyer as K Street would for Crowley. Is there no one else? Not really… unless you want to rev up that ole Wasserman Schultz machine again — a hopefully no one wants that, not even the members she’s still been funneling the dirty money to that she takes from all the wrong sources.
Late Wednesday afternoon two consecutive Politico pieces, one by John Bresnahan at 4pm and then another by Gabe Debenedetti at 5:30, raised the spectre of a revolt against Pelosi’s leadership over Ossoff’s loss. Before we get into them, I just want to remind everyone when House Dems whined and fulminated last year about how the caucus wanted to take control of the DCCC from Pelosi — so she granted them two concessions. First was that the DCCC chair would be elected, not appointed. And second that 5 DCCC regional vice chairs would be elected by members.
So here’s what happened. Pelosi nominated the hapless and worthless failure who had been trained by the vile Steve Israel (and had already proven himself absolutely incompetent and a detriment to Democrats ever winning anything) Ben Rey Lujan. No one ran against him and he was unanimously reelected. I don’t think any of the DCCC regional vice chair seats were contested and the 5 members were elected: Joe Kennedy (Northeast), Don McEachin (South), Betty McCollum (Midwest), Jared Polis (Central), Ted Lieu (West Coast).
From what I can tell the only one taking the job seriously is, predictably, Ted Lieu. I spoke with one of the other Vice Chairs and he confided in me that he doesn’t know why he ran and doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. I tried going over some of the live races in his area and he was unaware of any of them. Contrast that with: when I call a candidate in California, even really long-shot candidates in non-targeted districts, they tell me they’ve already had conversations with Ted Lieu or with his chief of staff. When I call candidates in crucial states like Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York they mostly say they never heard of a DCCC Regional Vice Chair. “What do they do?” Good question. But “nothing” — other than in Ted’s case — would be a likely answer.
If the fish rots from the head, in the case of the House Democratic Caucus, the rot has spread really deeply… really, really deeply. The leadership is sclerotic; so is much of the membership. “There’s a lot of grumbling by rank-and-file members, but no leadership change is imminent, wrote Bresnahan.
“There is no challenge to Pelosi’s leadership, and none is going to happen at this point, said numerous Democrats. But it’s clear frustration is growing with the longtime Democratic leader following the extensive losses Democrats have suffered over the past half-decade. And the fact that Republicans spent millions of dollars on TV ads tying Democratic hopeful Jon Ossoff to Pelosi — and the brand of progressive policies she represents — shows that she will once again be an issue for Democratic challengers in the very districts that the party needs to win to make her speaker again.”
Bresnahan, of course, doesn’t put who the members he quotes into any kind of real context. For example, his first quote is from ultra-conservative/ultra-corrupt Texas Blue Dog, Fielmon Vela, who has an ugly “F” rating from ProgressivePunch and who votes against progressive legislation more frequently than he supports anything worthwhile. The only Texans with (marginally) worse voting records are fellow Blue Dogs Vicente González and Henry Cuellar — and in the current session Vela’s record is worse than González’s. He generally votes for whatever he’s paid to vote for and he doesn’t belong in Congress (or the Democratic Party) but here’s what he told Politico: “I think you’d have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top… Nancy Pelosi is not the only reason that Ossoff lost. But she certainly is one of the reasons.” (It’s unimaginable to someone like Vela that Ossoff could have lost because he failed to embrace a progressive narrative once he had sucked millions and millions or dollars from the grassroots vaguely pretending to be progressive when he launched his campaign.) Bresnahan found other garbage-crats to give him quotes too, like Long Island Wall Street shill, New Dem Kathleen Rice.
“There comes a time when every leader has to say, ‘For the good of the order and for the betterment of the party, it’s time for me to step aside.’ And I wish that that would happen right now,” Rice said in an interview. “This is not a personal thing. I want to get back in the majority.”
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who challenged Pelosi for minority leader in November, wouldn’t comment directly whether she should step down, saying only, “My position hasn’t changed.”
“I think it’s very concerning that that tactic still has some punch,” Ryan said. “Again, it’s part of the broader national brand that average people don’t feel connected to the Democratic Party. Walk up the street and ask 10 people what the Democrats stand for, you’ll get 10 different answers. That’s no way to build a national party.”
There was even a little anti-Pelosi cabal that Rice put together with fellow conservaDem Seth Moulton (D-MA) on Thursday. Louisiana New Dem Cedric Richmond, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, was one of the dozen attendees. Progressives aren’t breaking from Pelosi… it’s really just the very corrupted Republican wing of the party. Debendetti started by quoting a spokesperson for MoveOn: “There are definitely some real lessons to be taken from this: Democrats are going to have to do better and improve on things a lot in order to take advantage of the opportunity presented by 2018. It doesn’t matter how much money you have if it’s not clear to people what you stand for, and if what you stand for isn’t change.”
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee doesn’t believe it erred in the Georgia race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Karen Handell, or in its spending decisions in the surprisingly competitive South Carolina special election that also took place Tuesday. After all, each of those districts — like those in Kansas and Montana special elections earlier this year — swung aggressively toward Democrats, and the group has been testing messages and tactics for 2018 within those races.
In a memo to staff and lawmakers on Wednesday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Ben Ray Lujan even declared for the first time that the House is in play.
But the morning was otherwise marked by finger-pointing reflecting some of the biggest divisions in the party — including some that have been festering since the 2016 presidential primary. To many progressives, Ossoff’s loss was a symptom of the party’s insistence on running moderate candidates who try to appeal too much to Republicans who dislike Trump.
“So far this cycle, we’ve seen an underfunded, authentic candidate with a message lose and we’ve seen a well-funded candidate with D.C. talking points lose. Now it’s time to focus on putting real resources behind candidates who can inspire progressives and give folks a clear vision for the future,” said longtime Democratic strategist Rebecca Katz, referring respectively to Rob Quist in Montana and Ossoff. “Democrats have to stop focusing all our energy on winning over Romney voters and start figuring out how to bring more progressive independents into the fold.”
Ossoff’s closing message in a district that routinely goes for GOP candidates by at least 20 points was largely about fiscal responsibility, rather than opposition to Trump or the offer of a broad economic plan. That kind of message is anathema to many liberal lawmakers and strategists.
“We need a bolder economic platform, our party needs to be for good jobs and better wages, [and] we have to have some bold economic ideas that are going to convince people that we get it,” said Rep. Ro Khanna of California. “There’s still a ways to go. The challenge is not simply a messaging issue or a branding issue, the challenge is a vision issue.”
Any wonder Ro Khanna is the very first member of Congress from anywhere in the country to endorse Randy Bryce for Congress? “We need leaders connected to the community who can speak with authenticity about the need for universal healthcare, better wages, and good jobs,” said Ro. “Randy has a bold vision that is rooted in his life experience. It’s heartening to see people like Randy step up to serve. That is what our founders envisioned.”