Midterm Casualty: Speaker Pelosi

In late 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nancy Pelosi had told her Democratic colleagues that she was prepared to take causalities in House seats in the 2010 midterm elections in order to push her health-care bill through. And it is now clear that that casualty count is high, especially among the moderates. Many of those moderates, including Gene Taylor of Mississippi and Chet Edwards of Texas (who both voted no on the health-care bill) tried to distance themselves from Pelosi during their campaigns. But it wasn’t enough to save them.

When she took control in 2002, Pelosi’s job was to get her party back on its liberal track. She was the natural choice, and in 2006 she landed in the speaker’s chair by exploiting the Republicans’ “culture of corruption.” But unfortunately for Pelosi’s party, her attempt to impose her well-engineered boss politics on the legislative process backfired. Pelosi’s utopian vision and her arrogance, which grew worse after President Obama took up residence in the White House, led to her demise. But not until after she and the president had seized their opportunity to try to create  massive new government programs that would give them more power and control over the country. Besides the unmatched economic-stimulus package, there was the big power grab in the health-care system, as well as the cap-and-trade legislation that would tax people’s carbon footprints.

Pelosi’s boss politics didn’t serve her well on such a grand scale, especially with issues that got personal. As I write in my book, She’s the Boss, when it comes to political machines, “the implosion of a machine operating on gears in overdrive is unstoppable.” Fortunately for the country, many voters didn’t the Democrats’ utopian aspirations, and Pelosi’s House collapsed.

In a post-election interview with Diane Sawyer, Pelosi said that she received the Republican attack ads of her agenda as “a compliment,” and that she has “no regrets.” Her speakership was characterized by hyperpartisanship and back-room deals, but now Pelosi calls for common ground. Will she remain amidst the ruin?

Rochelle Schweizer is author of She’s the Boss: The Disturbing Truth about Nancy Pelosi.