The Nancy Factor

by David Weigel

OK, does no one else see the irony in this?

Ex-U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that the thought of California Rep. Nancy Pelosi becoming the next leader of the House and being third in line to the presidency is frightening."

The prospect of her bringing San Francisco values and a whole attitude on foreign policy that is, I think, an attitude of weakness and appeasement and surrender, I think, would be a disaster for the country," the outspoken Republican said.

Really, if anyone should understand how little the specter of a new House Speaker figures into a voter's decision, it should be Newt Gingrich. The electorate of 1994 knew perfectly well that Newt Gingrich would be speaker if they elected a GOP congress. Democrats campaigned on that theme, knowing that the pugnancious minority leader was even less popular than Bill Clinton. The media gave them an assist by demonizing Gingrich, as seen here in some magazine called "Time."


It's fair, obviously, for Republicans to point out how left-wing a Democratic Congress will be. But they're simply not going to turn Nancy Pelosi into a swing voter-repelling cartoon character in 69 days.