Nancy Pelosi’s insistence on remaining the leader of Democrats in the House of Representatives has made clear how shockingly out of touch Pelosi is with the rest of the country. Pelosi and Obama are upper-crust versions of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne. They are bumbling around, clueless to what is going on around them, but forever confidently reassuring themselves that “someday we’ll get our break too, we’ve got to keep our eyes open.” For everyone else, unfortunately, this misadventure is not quite as funny as the Farrelly brothers’ slapstick classic. In fact it is incredibly somber. The consequence of their odyssey is a tab of I.O.U.s that will take more than one briefcase to fill and more than one generation to pay back.
Even after losing 60 seats and control of the House, and boasting a single-digit approval rating among independents, Nancy Pelosi still thinks she should stay in power as leader of the House Democrats. Pelosi told colleagues that “our work is not finished,” and later tweeted that “driven by urgency of creating jobs…I am running for Dem leader.” Oddly enough, it is not Republicans who have been the most vocal critics of her decision.
Prior to the election, several notable Democrats pledged to vote against Nancy Pelosi if she ran for a leadership position after the election. Rep. Bobby Bright (AL) and Rep. Jim Marshall (GA) said they would not support any action to reaffirm her as speaker. Rep Heath Schuler (NC) said he would run against Pelosi if there were no viable alternative to her. Those Democrats recognized that siding with Nancy Pelosi was a political liability and that voting for her would cost them votes.
Nancy Pelosi is one of the most unpopular politicians in the US. A September 21 Rasmussen poll showed that Pelosi had a 59% unfavorable rating nationally. According to another Rasmussen poll, 51.3% of America opposes the health care plan Pelosi championed, and only 31% of Americans believe that America is heading in the right direction. But polls are nothing more than predictions, and predictions are not set in stone. So Pelosi’s pride of what she “accomplished” as House speaker is allowable. When faced with million-to-one odds, exclaiming that “there’s a chance” is forgivable, though probably naively optimistic. That is, until the election results come in.
By the time the sun rose on Wednesday, Democratic hubris had taken a beating. Not only had 16 Democratic freshmen been defeated, but three major Democratic chairmen and seven Democratic representatives with at least 20 years of seniority in the House were defeated as well. Republicans had gained 60 seats in the House, six seats in the Senate, nine gubernatorial seats, and perhaps secured the future of the House for the next several elections. Polls taken on Election Day show that if the 2012 presidential election had been held last Tuesday, Obama would have lost to Mike Huckabee, 52% to 44%, and to Mitt Romney, 50% to 45%. A rational mind would have come to the conclusion that America had rejected the failed and failing policies of the progressive left. Alas, it seems that reason is not the strong suit of either Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama.
With her insistence on leading House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi seems to have adopted President Obama’s incorrect assumption that it wasn’t the policies that failed; it was the “communication” of the policies that failed. Rep. Eric Cantor hit the target when he said that Democrats will not be listening to voters if they elect Pelosi as minority leader. Cantor wasn’t just spouting Republican rhetoric when he said that — members of Pelosi’s own party have discovered that truism too. In the week since the election, Reps. Larry Kissell (NC), Heath Schuler (NC), Albio Sires (NJ), Mike Ross (AR), Dan Boren (OK), and John Yarmuth (KY) have all spoken out against her bid to be minority leader. A letter written by defeated House Democrats imploring Nancy Pelosi to step down has been circulating around Capitol Hill. The defeated Democrats write, “It is impossible not to judge the results of November 2 as anything but a profound loss.” Those Democrats have come to the conclusion that in order to rebuild the Democratic Party to counter a Republican Party that is “simply too daunting,” Nancy Pelosi will need to step down, because of the ease with which Republicans can successfully “demonize” her.
Like Harry and Lloyd before them, President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have traded in the ’84 Sheepdog for the 70 mpg “hog” that looks like it is only a few more miles from spontaneously combusting. While the economy was bad when they took over, it has gotten even worse under their leadership. After accumulating trillions of dollars of debt at the fastest rate ever to pay for ineffective bailouts and an inefficient health care law, the US economy is far worse off. The new taxes and regulations imposed on businesses large and small are corrupting the long-term strength of the economy and stifling short-term growth.
I am not alone in my assessment, Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, summed up current US economic policy in one word: “clueless.” Schaeuble’s assessment of the US economy is that “the Americans have lived too long on credit, overblown their financial sector, and neglected their industrial base.” In short, the US economic growth model, according to Schaeuble, is in a “deep crisis.”
In the Pelosi-Obama world, the 65% of voters who believe the US is heading in the wrong direction must either be inconsequential or do not exist. With it looking like Obama’s communication style is the only thing that the White House is willing to reconsider, and Pelosi still seeking to maintain control of House Democrats as if nothing happened last Tuesday, it looks like Democrats believe they only need to hang on until 2012 to reclaim their majority. They are treating the 2010 election as nothing more than an anomaly that will correct itself in due time. America is Mary, and instead of Obama and Pelosi only needing to hang on until Aspen to win her requited love, Obama and Pelosi think they only need to make it to 2012. Just like how Lloyd’s quest for Mary’s heart was complete farce, Obama and Pelosi have been stumbling along, wrongly thinking they hold the keys to our hearts. Obama and Pelosi have been and are wrong. They are out of touch with the reality of what Americans want and need.
Brandon Greife is the Political Director at the College Republican National Committee. He holds a J.D. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.A. in Political Science and History from there as well.