I think that’s great. Republicans have succeeded in demonizing Pelosi, but the truth is, she has been an effective speaker whose leadership was essential in implementing the party’s agenda.
As she clearly recognizes, you win some, you lose some, but you fight on. You don’t slink home with your tail between your legs. However, Pelosi’s Republican opponents seem a bit offended at her audacity, apparently believing that the beaten have an obligation to remain the beaten.
“If Democratic members in the House elect Nancy Pelosi as their leader, it’s almost as if they just didn’t get the message from the voters this election,” Eric Cantor, the likely House majority leader, told Fox News Sunday. “This is the woman who … puts ideology first, and there have been no results for the American people. And that seems the direction they want to take again. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“If Pelosi assumes this leadership role, then President Barack Obama should forget about being reelected in 2012,” U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told the New York Daily News.
Pelosi and other congressional Democrats argue that last week’s results were driven more by the poor economy rather than by widespread voter rejection of Democratic policies. President Obama took the same line in a “60 Minutes” interview last night.
“I think, first and foremost, it was a referendum on the economy,” he told Steve Kroft. “And the party in power was held responsible for an economy that is still underperforming and where a lot of folks are still hurting. I mean, we’ve got 9.6 percent unemployment. We’ve got higher than that underemployment. A lot of folks who would like to be working full time can’t work full time. Families are struggling paying the bills. People have seen their home values decline all across the country. In some cases, so that they’re under water. Their house is worth less than the cost of their mortgage.
And so, people I think expect that we would have made more progress than we have on the economic front. And I think that was uppermost on people’s minds.”
That’s exactly right. It may have been unrealistic to expect any president or party to quickly turn around an economy sinking as fast as this one was in 2009, but voters clearly did so anyway and have rendered a harsh verdict.
Now, in the aftermath of the midterms, Republicans prefer to believe the outcome represents a full-hearted embrace of their conservative agenda, and they are going to operate on that assumption, as they should. Democrats believe it was all or mostly about the economy, and they are going to operate on that quite different theory.
That’s the rhythm and cycle of politics, and Pelosi understands it better than most.