Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pelosi Avoids Showdown Over Minority Whip in House

All that hopey, changey stuff? Forget it. Never was, never will be.

Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi averted a Wednesday showdown between her top two lieutenants by announcing that she will create a new post for Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who was expected to lose a race for minority whip to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

That may help Pelosi avoid a revolt from black lawmakers anxious to make sure that Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress, isn't booted from the leadership or demoted in rank — but there are no specifics about his title, the size of his staff or the responsibilities of the new job, and his camp has yet to signal to CBC members whether he is satisfied with the arrangement. Moreover, the deal does little to alleviate the frustrations of a scattered but sizable set of junior Democrats who believe Pelosi and her senior allies exercise too much control over caucus structures, including campaign, policy and committee-assignment apparatuses. Those lawmakers are working to rewrite internal rules to take power away from the septuagenarians who run the party.

The battle for minority whip was developing into quite a mess. The Congressional Black Caucus were signed on for Clyburn while the established old lions of the party were backing Hoyer. It was getting into racial accusations and that's not good for the party that claims to be all about being a home for black voters. Especially since Hoyer doesn't have a very close relationship with Pelosi - usually seen as a rivalry for power.

Instead, the party that lost power in a very big way in the House of Representatives has chosen to allow those who ran it off the cliff to remain in control. This status quo extends into creating a new post spot, tailor made for Clyburn so as not to anger the black base of the party - crucial for Democratic electorate victories.

The old lions have to contend with a growing, restless younger population of elected representatives. Nancy Pelosi refuses to step aside gracefully, desperately clutching to her power position and inciting discontent. To say she is in complete denial of her role in the demise of the Democratic majority in the House is an understatement. She claims it was solely the unemployment numbers.

"The reason the election results are what they are is because we have 9-1/2 percent unemployment in our country. We didn't lose the election because of me," Pelosi told National Public Radio on Friday. "The reason they had to try to take me down is because I've been effective in fighting the special interests in Washington, D.C. I'm also the most significant attractor of support for the Democrats. So I'm not looking back on this. [Democratic colleagues] asked me to run. I'm running. And again, our members understand they made me target because I'm effective."

And, yes, she actually says she fights the 'special interests' so effectively that she should remain in power. This is the same woman who threw a party last week for special interest groups vital to Democratic victories. She refused to allow the press into the gathering. She held it in a taxpayer funded federal building and kept the guest list secret. This is the same woman who declared, upon elevation to the Speaker of the House, that she would 'drain the swamps' of corruption, and of lobbyists' control over Congress.

Irony, much, Madame Speaker? It will be interesting to watch how long the up and coming Democratic politicians will allow Pelosi's hypocrisy to continue.

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