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Pelosi's House with No Center

A Commentary By Debra J. Saunders

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Imagine if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were a Republican. Imagine that the Republicans, including many moderates, just lost more than 60 House seats in the worst rout a party has experienced since 1938. Yet the hard-core conservative speaker -- of whom, polls show, a majority of voters have a decidedly unfavorable opinion -- decides to run for the step-down position of minority leader.

You know that folks in San Francisco would deride that Republican leader and her minions as self-destructive ideologues (also known as nut-jobs). But then, your average San Francisco Democrat sees Pelosi not as a liberal, but as a moderate. In other words, your average Ess Eff Dem is about as out of touch with the mood of the national electorate as, well, Pelosi.

The San Francisco Chronicle urged Pelosi to "ride out the storm," citing her prowess as a fundraiser, her leadership skills and her commitment to representing the party's more liberal leanings if President Obama tries to move to the center. Her defenders also argue that the Dems lost big not because voters were rejecting Pelosi and company per se, but to protest the fact that the economy has yet to rebound.

Now, I do not see the 2010 vote as proof that voters have embraced the GOP. Far from it. But it's hard not to look at the tectonic House shift as anything other than voters calling for Obama and congressional Democrats to move to the center. If House Democrats elect Pelosi as their leader, they essentially will have signaled to voters: We are the party that doesn't listen.

Another pro-Pelosi argument comes from Pelosi herself -- that conservatives are gunning for her because she has been so "effective" in successfully ramming Obamacare, cap-and-trade and stimulus bills through the House. For that reason alone, Democrats should keep her.

That argument would work much better if Pelosi had pushed through well-crafted legislation. Instead, she championed a health care bill that threatens to chill the creation of private-sector jobs, drove stimulus spending with little regard to the federal deficit and pushed moderate Dems to risk their congressional seats by supporting a dubious cap-and-trade bill that never happened.

"Good, solid members will lose this fall because they took a tough vote for a cap-and-trade bill that never made it through the Senate," retiring Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., told the Wall Street Journal's John Fund before the election. Baird voted for Obamacare, cap-and-trade and the Obama stimulus -- but he was not happy with his party's "authoritarian, closed leadership," "pandering to every special interest" and failure to focus on job creation.

I get that many Ess Eff Dems don't mind that Blue Dog Democrats were among last Tuesday's big losers. They think Republicans are crazy when they slight moderates -- but that Pelosi should slight her party's center-left. And they don't care if there's a bruising battle for the No. 2 slot in the minority leadership between moderate Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, the current majority leader, and uber-liberal Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.

"Thankfully for Democrats, Republicans and conservative columnists don't get to pick who leads us," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill quipped.

Now you know what lemmings would say if they had e-mail.

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See Other Commentary by Debra J. Saunders.

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

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