DRAWING KNIVES? The...

DRAWING KNIVES? The Washington Post surveys veteran congressional handicappers and concludes that the Democrats' chances of taking back the House in November remain very slim. I'll let the Midterm Madness folks judge whether the piece is trustworthy or persuasive on the merits; needless to say, it remains the case that structural barriers still do render a takeover a long-shot proposition, even with Democrats enjoying such a politically favorable climate nationwide. One thing I've been hearing more recently from Hill people is the prospect of the following dynamic happening: momentum and expectations for a Democratic takeover build up so much that, when, as is still likely, in November the Democrats fall short of the 15-seat gain they need, the disappointment will serve as a pretext for caucus members to attempt to push Nancy Pelosi from her leadership position. This I hear from Democrats who, like many bloggers and activists, are dissatisfied with Pelosi for various reasons that, from my perspective, range from the reasonable but small-bore to the inexplicable to the very wrongheaded.

Liberals are going to want to have a sober assessment of what the real odds are for various outcomes in November and not get seduced into false expectations; moreover, I'd suggest people think a bit harder about the Democrats' leadership in the House and what the alternatives are. At the risk of repeating myself regarding the whole Dems-aren't-so-lame discussion, let me bear down on Pelosi's performance specifically. Recall that this week saw the fruits of a deft parliamentary jujitsu move administered by Pelosi regarding the House immigration bill. Also recall that the Republicans left for recess last week having failed, under the new leadership of John Boehner, to pass a budget bill for this year; the context for that failure was set by Pelosi ensuring a unanimous and united Democratic front of opposition, just as she had in 2003, 2004, and 2005. (Yes, budget bills have always been major party-line votes, but the minority under Pelosi has also held ranks for other budget and appropriations bills that were scuttled due to GOP divisions.)

If liberals would rather cast their lot with a Minority Leader Hoyer, that's their prerogative, though I'd love to have the rationale for such thinking spelled out for me sometime.

--Sam Rosenfeld

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