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Why Nancy Pelosi Thinks She Can Hold the House

4 years ago
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Either Nancy Pelosi really does think her Democrats are going to do much, much better than expected at the polls in a little over a month -- or the House Speaker should have gone to Yale Drama and given La Streep some real competition.

Ever since White House press secretary Robert Gibbs first suggested back in July that Democrats could lose the House, Pelosi has often seemed alone in her grasp of the fact that defeatism isn't energizing. Depressed Democrats don't rush the barricades, but stay home with the curtains drawn on Election Day, eating bowls of parsley potatoes and rereading Paul Krugman's funniest columns. Repeatedly, she's said, "We are not yielding one single grain of sand.'' And again on Friday, she made her best case for the best-case scenario.
In high spirits during an hour-long conversation with half a dozen reporters, she insisted that despite polls that give her only a one in three chance of retaining the majority, her party's district-by-district "ground game" is working better than we think. Her members will prevail, she said, if they "tattoo Republican candidates with the source of their money" – namely, the insurance companies and big banks Democrats took on when they passed health care and financial reform. Special interests pumping vast sums into Republican campaign coffers, she cracked, "give new meaning to the term 'Buy American.' ''

When I asked her which political party the Tea Party movement will ultimately help more, she said, "I'm not here to put anybody down, but most of our members are not even seeing Tea Party activists in their districts. But nationally, it's helpful; somebody said it was amusing until Delaware,'' where Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell beat longtime Republican Congressman Mike Castle in the Senate primary. "Then it got frightening.''

Her members "left here pretty optimistic'' as they headed home to campaign, she said. "It was a fond leaving of the Capitol that we had. Many of the members have told me that a lot of the hoop-dee-do'' about how bad things are just isn't what they're seeing back home. "We have the candidates, and the candidates will always tell.'' Another positive sign, she said, was the general lack of enthusiasm for the GOP's "Pledge to America," which she noted has been "what's a euphemism for dumped on? -- I'm trying to be a lady -- by some of their own people.''

She refused to entertain any questions predicated on significant Democratic losses in November -- "I wouldn't want to waste your time" – and said she was more than happy to let her members distance themselves from her on the campaign trail, or declare that even if they do hold the House, they'll vote against her as Speaker next year: "I say, "Go for it. Just win your election!' It's not about me; it's about the middle class."

Even some Democrats have criticized Pelosi for adjourning until after the midterms without voting on whether to extend the expiring Bush tax cuts -- presumably because she didn't have the votes for a bill that would have extended the cuts for the middle class, but ended them for the wealthiest Americans. Yet she was adamant that the bill would have passed easily if she'd put it to a vote.

Yes, 39 House Democrats joined Republicans in an effort to force a vote before heading home, and yes, Pelosi had to take the unusual step of voting so that the Democrats could win that one, 210 to 209. But she said she was happy to let those 39 members go their own way on that, too: "I didn't bring the vote for a simple reason. That bill would have sailed through -- we probably would have gotten Republican votes -- but I didn't allow it. Do I give them [Republicans] an opportunity to misrepresent again what we're doing?'' – by mischaracterizing the bill as a tax increase for average Americans.

The Republican talking point, of course, is that the cuts should be extended for all Americans, while Democrats insist that their plan does just that. (Those who make more than $250,000 would pay taxes on any earnings beyond that; in other words, someone who makes $251,000 would pay a higher rate on $1,000 of his income.)

But Republicans don't want tax cuts for the middle class, Pelosi said, "unless we worship at the shrine of those [making] over $250,000...They want to turn [America] into a plutocracy or an oligarchy. And I just will not give them more grist for the grinder when they have a 100-million-dollar grinder.''

Since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling and subsequent FEC rulings that have legalized unlimited corporate donations that can now be used to finance and attack specific candidates, "it's not a level playing field'' any more, she said. "That's why we have to tattoo'' Republicans in a way that links them to their corporate sponsors.

She laughed when asked why, since the Democrats had accomplished much of what Obama promised to do if elected, voters seemed so unhappy. "I'll tell you why -- 9 ½ percent unemployment! Any political party that could not exploit 9 ½ percent unemployment ought to hang up their gloves!'' Then, too, she said, "You don't get points for saying 'it would have been much worse' '' without the bailouts and the stimulus, even if that happens to be the case.

Pushback against the Democratic agenda is no surprise, she said. "The crown jewel of our accomplishments is health care reform, and for months and months and months it was a pinata – 'It's about abortion,' 'It's about socialized medicine' -- and it was a complete lie put forward'' by the insurance lobby that's now claiming the bill has forced them to raise rates "they were going to raise anyway.''

The proof that Republicans would rather have campaign issues than accomplishments, she said, is that only one Republican voted for the bill that will funnel $30 billion through community banks to ease credit for small businesses, and offer $12 billion more in tax breaks.

Some House Democrats have groused that they voted for the unpopular cap-and-trade energy bill passed by the House and now have to defend that vote back home, though it never even went to a vote in the Senate. Does Pelosi regret passing the bill? "Absolutely not,'' she said, calling that legislation "a point of great pride for us, and a great step for our country.''

Asked why the Democratic base is so unexcited, she said that was no mystery, either: "I am the base. I was as dissatisfied and unhappy 30 years ago that everything we marched and campaigned for'' hadn't yet happened as progressives are now.
In races in her home state of California, she predicted that Sen. Barbara Boxer would easily beat Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, and that her friend Jerry Brown would best Meg Whitman in the gubernatorial race even if the former eBay CEO were to pour another record-breaking $119 million of her own money into the campaign: "With $100 million, if they [Team Whitman] had a story to tell, they'd be ahead by now.''

All in all, she said in closing, "I would rather be where we are than where they are...We passed bills everybody said were impossible, too.''

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Craig Bardo

The leftist demonstration project has failed on it's own terms - 8% unemployment, "Summer of Recovery?" Escalating costs and deficits and employers dropping coverage, not "bending the (cost) curve." Moratoria, punitive mandates and higher taxes - that ought to kick start any economy!

October 02 2010 at 12:48 PM

Pelosi claims it is not about her, but the middle class, when she is talking to her democrat folks and their elections. Duh, the middle class is why you will take a shellacking this year. The middle class is sick of being told they are too stupid to understand 2000 plus page legislation that must be passed before we can see what is in it, and that legislation is said to reduce deficits, guarantee our health care will not go up, not cost that much, and keep our insurance from going up which forces companies to drop it.....Uh, Pelosi, reality is biting you hard. Put extending the Bush tax cuts up for vote. The middle class knows the truth. They know tax cuts work, even though you were part of the elitist leftists and media lapdogs who cried the Bush tax cuts would not work and were only for the rich. You cannot have it both ways, and the middle class sees right through your lunacy.

October 02 2010 at 12:48 PM

Ok lets get this right. 8 years of Bush and Crew spending money let and right on a war made for is daddy!!! And the spending goes on because BUSH made sure it would. Now 11 MONTHS ago we get President Obama and he starts to work. Well he is working on that problem because he has every Republican left on the hill Standing in front of him and stopping anything from going forward! I really think its time we show the blame for this mess and put it on the party of Bush and Crew. They did it, They have destroyed our country and every other person on this planet hates Americans just because we are Americans! Wake up and smell the coffee, Do you really think that anyone could mess this country up and put us in this shape in 11 MONTHS! Get real! THE FRICKING BLAME IS ON BUSH AND CREW! And its about time we start doing something about it! "END OF LINE"

October 02 2010 at 12:46 PM
Nancy Keeling

It is nothing short of amazing how the ignorance of many's minds work. You want all these great jobs, but your work ethics suck. You want prosperity ,but you dispise anyone who is wealthy. You think that the government can take from those that have, and supply all your needs even though your contribution is little to nothing. What every one in this country needs to do, if they haven't, is to go to as many socialit and communist countries as they can, and find just one that is so prosperous that that is where you want to live.. I write this, probably to deaf ears, but will post anyway. Oh and all the wars that are started by the Republicans? You need to read history. George bush had the same problem that his Daddy did. He caved in to Democrats and it came back to bite him in the ass. Why? Because when all of their tax schemes and loan entitlements shook out, they all said it was Bush's fault. In a way it was because they tried to get along and give the Democrats what they wanted, but the Democrats never accept any of the blame. Jimmy Carter? cna you say 22 % interest? Regan cut taxes and brought prosperity while, the Democrats laughed Regan to scourn. Bill Clinton rode the wealth that was created under Regan. Look this up and see if it is not true. On the last day of Clinton's presidency Peter Jennings, on ABC News announced that we were offically in a recession. That means George Bush inherited a recession!!! Tax cuts under GWB kept unemployment to 4.5%. What is it now, after the stimulus?

October 02 2010 at 12:45 PM

If the Democrats do not hold the majority. It will be a sad day for America --- the deciding factor why the American empire failed, fallen and gone.

October 02 2010 at 12:44 PM

The sooner the American voters relize that neither party is out for the good of "the people" the better off we'll be. We are being played as a mark for their game. They keep us fighting over party instead of looking at EACH canadate and their ties if any to anyone BUT the American people. We are Americans and we must join together to turn this corrupt machine off once and for all! Get out and vote, show Washington that we all are paying attention and not only 39% that usually vote! It's sad that 95% of the Iraq voters turn out and only 39% turn out in the country that freed them!Become knowlegable,challange govertnment,and Vote!

October 02 2010 at 12:42 PM

Well..., it wont be long !. The time is drawing near for some Americans to reward the GOP for their lack-luster . Give them control of our government and it's just a matter of time, they will start another " war for profit" - their trade-mark. It started with Reagan when he decided to invade Granada, then 'ole man Bush decided to invade Panama, then came Jr and should know the drill by now !!!. I hope you were paying attentio to what I said cuz by now you'd realize, these are all Republicans using our Soc. Sec dollars to fund these wars they create for profits. ...and guess what ?......Now that they've depleated the soc sec lock box, these are the same city slickers spreading the propganadas of deceptions and are trying to convince us that to collectun-employment benefits, social security benefits and medicare is tantamount to receiving hand-outs. Boy were we fooled into believing Democrats wanted to pull the plug on Grand-mah......The GOP are masters at deceptions !.

October 02 2010 at 12:40 PM

Ken: Television has elevated the price of everything, from the price of a ticket to a sporting event to the cost of a cup of coffee. That's funny. Television has elevated the price of a ticket to a ball game...

October 02 2010 at 12:32 PM

Some of these Pelosi supporters are great story tellers and they would be very entertaining if not for the sad fact that these stories are the products of delusional minds that should be pitied. One poster could not even spell Pelosi correctly, but then again this administration cannot even find staffers with enough intelligence to fly the national flag of a friendly nation correctly, or check their translations before presenting the leader of a foreign nation with a gift. Way to lead by example demos.

October 02 2010 at 12:32 PM

Go Nancy Keep the fight going God forbid we have to go backwords again and have the Republicans take the rest of our money and freedoms

October 02 2010 at 12:31 PM


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