Republicans won at least 58 seats in the House yesterday, more than expected and a bigger victory, by six seats, than the sweep in 1994. I watched the results at a Tea Party Patriots election-night party last night and, more than anyone, the party's attendees hated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In fact, the target painted on Pelosi's back might even explain some of the victories: I can envision those motivated by the Tea Party to vote casting their ballots for Republican candidates while visions of Pelosi tumbling from her speakership played in their heads.
Why the hatred? Some of the reasons are obvious. President Obama's choice to stay above the fray in some of the most vicious debates, especially health care, meant that the nitty-gritty work on the bills most hated by the Tea Party was left to House leadership, and that's Pelosi. And, unfortunately for her, she provided a sound bite for publications predisposed to hating her, like the Heritage Foundation's blog The Foundry, when, speaking of the health-care bill, she told the National Association of Counties, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy." This was in March, when Congress was still working out the details in the final legislation. Those I talked to last night really considered that arrogant, and ignorant. They took it as a sign that the lawmakers weren't reading the bills, and as evidence of Pelosi's use of bad processes to push bills through the House. That those things, to the extent to which they are true, were no different from before Pelosi's reign doesn't matter.
Did liberals hate Newt Gingrich this badly after he took over in 1994? Probably. But the tone, of course, is different. Pelosi is arrogant, Pelosi is matriarchal, Pelosi is incompetent: The Tea Partiers called her "Nanny Nancy." Those are descriptions it's impossible to not see influenced by her gender. But in the end, the Tea Party probably hates her most for the same reasons liberals will remember her service as speaker fondly. She corralled votes for difficult legislation, and got things done.
-- Monica Potts
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