Commentary Magazine


Joined at the Hip

A Democratic pollster has this interesting take on the Nancy Pelosi CIA flap:

There have been rumblings of a palace coup, but nothing tangible has surfaced. The poll numbers to keep in mind are 65 percent, 45 percent and 31 percent — the approval ratings of President Obama, congressional Democrats and Speaker Pelosi herself. If the Republicans are successful in the 2010 elections, or before, in making Nancy Pelosi the face of the Democratic Party — as we did in the mid-1990s with then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party — the situation could change fundamentally. With 30 or 40 marginal Democratic seats potentially up for grabs next year from newly elected Blue Dogs, the Democratic Party will be very sensitive to efforts to change the party’s public face from the president to the speaker. And should Republicans get some traction from this strategy, Steny Hoyer could get renewed attention and interest from nervous Democrats.

Well, it’s hard to argue Pelosi’s isn’t the face of the Democratic Party in Congress or that she hasn’t monopolized the stage for a good week now. But the real issue for Democrats and for the White House becomes whether she’s more trouble than she’s worth. If she isn’t doing more for the president and the Democratic agenda than Hoyer could, then she’s replaceable, whenever it will cause the least disruption.

However, unless there is some great revelation before the 2010 campaign, Pelosi in all likelihood is there to stay. Democrats must realize that for better or worse she will inevitably be the target of much of the Republicans’ ire during midterm elections. The price to pay for these escapades comes at the ballot box. In just seventeen months the public will have a chance to register its views on the party Pelosi leads and which continues (for now) to support her — even after her shameful display of duplicity.

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