Friday, November 5, 2010

Keep Nancy Pelosi and dump Harry Reid!

Ok, folks, a little reminder lesson in how our democracy works (and please forgive me if this is old hat to many of you).

Every two years, the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election -- all 435 members.  The Founders (Madison, I think) designed it this way (though there were fewer then, of course) so as to be a more immediate barometer of the country's mood -- for better or worse.  Unlike the House, only 1/3 of the Senate is up for re-election every two years, so that all 100 members will have stood for re-election during the six years that are a senator's term in office.  Then, finally, the White House -- its President and his (or, one day, her) administration -- only stands one more time after being elected the first time.  Politically speaking, a perfect storm is only possible every four years when 100% of the House is up, 1/3 of the Senate, and 100% of the White House.  The Senate, designed to be the most deliberative body, is thereby the most protected against the vagaries of the American electorate.

Enter this most recent election.  The knives are currently out for Speaker -- soon, perhaps, to be Minority Leader -- Nancy Pelosi, because a) her chamber bore the brunt of voters' discontent and b) the victorious Republicans specifically used her as a whipping girl and substitute for a milquetoast Reid and an untouchable (for now) Obama.  And, here's the kicker:  they are not just Republican knives -- in fact, the Republicans, thinking they've got a good thing going, would like her to stick around in leadership; no, the knives out for Pelosi are from her own side.

This is not only foolish and stupid, it's deeply unfair.  Nancy Pelosi is the only Democrat in leadership who has met expectations and kept her campaign promises, period.  I would wager that there were more Democratic seats lost in the House on Tuesday because of Independents and Democrats sitting the election out in protest for the incredibly lame fumbling that happened in the Senate and the White House with all the legislation she got through the House (as promised and instructed) than any new Republican recruits to Pelosi-hatred.

Harry Reid, to be sure, had his own fight to wage...but would he have had such a close election with someone even Republicans weren't sure smelled right if his position hadn't been so irrevocably damaged by a universal condemnation by his own Party of a lackluster performance since (and even before?) Obama was elected?  No!  Absolutely not.  Frankly, I'm thrilled he beat Sharron Angle in the end, but she never should have been a serious candidate in the first place.  She's clearly outside the mainstream -- even for Nevada -- and the only reason she gave him a run for his money is that Democrats weren't even sure they wanted him back.

Soooo [and you see where I'm going with this, yes?], I'm curious -- and not a little outraged -- that all the talk is about whether Pelosi will keep her leadership position in the House (albeit now in the minority) and no one whom I've read has brought up whether Harry Reid should keep his position of Majority Leader in the Senate!  Just because his chamber (as we've said, only a third of which was standing for re-election) held the majority for the Democrats doesn't mean that he -- much more than Pelosi -- doesn't bear a huge responsibility for this past cycle's losses. Where are the calls for his ouster?  Where are the calls for someone, say, like Chuck Schumer, widely thought a possible replacement if Reid was unsuccessful in keeping his seat?  Frankly, this question would be moot if Angle had actually won (as many suspected she would).  Should those calls die out just because Reid did keep his seat!?

No, they should not.  Let's hope the Pelosi question is quickly settled so that the media -- always no farther along than a dog sniffing for his next morsel -- can shift gears and examine someone who should be the real fall-guy for this year's drubbing.


[Image source.]