Memo From Left: Go Away, Nancy Pelosi

Some Democrats want her to step down; Republicans readily agree

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Considering her party's midterm debacle last week, it was a surprise to hear that Nancy Pelosi would once again be running to hold the Democratic leadership reins as House Minority leader. But—in a tweet—she confirmed the speculation, signaling that she still had more legislative fights in her, and implicitly brushed off the notion that she should resign because of the election results (or because the GOP deemed her a "fur hatted commissar"). Not all Democrats are pleased.

This past weekend, The New York Times wrote an editorial arguing that the Democratic party needs a "new champion," not Pelosi, to fight the Republican "insurgency." Blue Dog Democrats, who suffered steep losses last Tuesday, have called on her to quit, with some circulating a letter insisting that if she stays the GOP will only further "demonize" her. Still, a few pundits note that having Pelosi as House Minority leader wouldn't be so bad for liberals—she held that very same position in 2006.

  • It's Time For A New Leader  The New York Times editorial board hedges when speaking of Pelosi, describing her as "extremely effective" while in the same breath asking if she's "really the best the Democrats can come up with" as they become the House minority party. Ultimately, the editors decide in favor of adopting a new "clear and convincing voice to help Americans understand that Democratic policies are not bankrupting the country, advancing socialism or destroying freedom." While Pelosi is quite good at "maneuvering legislation" she wasn't able to reach out to skeptical voters. The Times hopes she will move on.
  • She Was a Good Speaker, But After Last Week She Has to Go   The Guardian's Michael Tomasky concedes that he must be "moving toward the mushy middle" but he agrees with the calls for Nancy Pelosi to step down from her leadership position. He poses this "simple" question: "How can you preside over the biggest ass-whupping since 1938 and keep your job? You can't." Tomasky does note that a prominent Democrat has yet to announce that he/she will run for the position, which would mean that she could take it by virtual default. He writes: "I am sure it's a missed opportunity. When your house gets burned like that, you slap a fresh coat of paint on it."
  • Defeated House Democrats Want Her Gone  At least that's what Fox News's Chad Pergram alleges when he circulated an unsigned letter from defeated House Democrats who would like Nancy Pelosi to step down from her leadership position. "In the draft of the letter, the members say that they were 'victimized by a national wave of resentment toward Democrats, a wave that ensnared you along with us.'" The draft also bluntly states "with you as the leader of House Democrats, the hangover of 2010 stands no chance of subsiding. Many of us have run our last race but remain committed to our party; we want to help recruit successful candidates to run in our stead."
  • There's Little More That She Can Accomplish  Elaine S. Povich, who penned a biography of Pelosi, also makes that case that she should step down--but not for reasons that others have suggested. "Sure, she could decide she has one more fight in her, a retrenching job that would mean going back to fundraising, going back to barnstorming and working tirelessly to regain the majority," Povitch notes. "But as most political observers acknowledge, it would be a steep climb that might not be accomplished in the next election, or the next, or the one after that. And even if she did manage to climb back into the speaker's chair again, there's little chance she would ever be able to match, let alone exceed, what she accomplished over the past four years."
  • It's Simple: Voters Didn't Like Her Legacy   Hot Air's Ed Morrissey put's it bluntly: "Pelosi did in fact shove two major pieces of legislation down the throats of Republicans and the electorate. The first, Porkulus, turned into a political albatross with its utter failure to buffer unemployment, and Democrats wound up owning all of the political liability because of Pelosi’s decision to lock Republicans out of the process of writing the bill. The second, ObamaCare, got passed despite angry protests for nine months over the equally top-down ObamaCare bill largely due to the machinations of Pelosi and Harry Reid, and again while ignoring Republican alternative proposals." So, yes, "if Democrats want to regain voter trust, it’s going to take something other than a new sales pitch with the same old leadership to do it."
  • I Can See Their Point, But She Wasn't Doing a Bad Job Washington Monthly's Steve Benen understands why Democrats are looking for her ouster but doesn't hop on the bandwagon: "I happen to think Pelosi would make a fine Minority Leader, but I'm willing to concede her detractors' argument isn't ridiculous. For one thing, in the wake of drastic losses, it's not unusual to expect a leadership shake-up....But there's one detail the [Times] editorial neglected to mention: Pelosi has already been House Minority Leader, and she proved herself pretty good at it. In fact, she was Minority Leader in 2006 -- the cycle Democrats took back the House majority."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.