Monday, March 1, 2010

Pelosi's Forced March Politics

Conservatives have always been irritated by Nancy Pelosi. But she is certainly one tough Speaker of the House of Representatives. Of course, she leads a majority of 257-178. That's a majority of 79. You can be plenty tough with a 79 seat majority.

In The Politico, John Bresnahan and Jonathan Allen marvel at her strong leadership and the brutal election year she faces. It's the usual Democratic-leaning approach. Strong leader Pelosi faces challenges from party splits as she heads into election year.

But I wonder if the take-no-prisoners strategy, that now seems to be include procedural shenanigans to get ObamaCare over the line, won't turn out to be a monumental error.

We complain about politicians because they are such wusses. They are like horses; they shy at the least little thing. There's a practical reason for that. Politicians want to please their supporters and give them goodies, but they don't want to rile up the opposition.

You don't let sleeping dogs lie because you are a nice guy. You do it because it is almost always the best way of keeping your seat.

President Obama and Speaker Pelosi seem to have gone out of their way to rile up the opposition. Whether that is deliberate, whether it is clumsiness, or just a feeling that the opposition is too weak to count, I don't know.

But my judgment is that the partisan agenda and tone of the 2009-2010 season will turn out to be a big minus for Democrats. It is teaching moderates and independents all across America that the Democrats are not the family-friendly moderates they liked to appear in 2006 and 2008.

Democrats are teaching non-political Americans that, if you elect a Democrat, you are going to get a very liberal government. That is something they strained mightily to avoid in the years from 1992 to 2008.

The default sentiment of the moderates and independents seems to be that first you take care of the economy. Then, if the economy is rattling along, well, you can pass a program or two to help people. It feels like the right thing to do.

Obama Democrats are doing things the other way round. They are concentrating on liberal agenda items with huge price tags, and they are letting the economy wither on the vine with discredited Keynesian pump priming (discredited except at The New York Times).

Instead of figuring out what they can pass with a few Republican moderates they are going for the big play, on a straight partisan game plan.

The reason we have the idea of governing with the "consent of the governed" enshrined in the Declaration of Independence is that it is a good practical basis for government. It minimizes the number of people that get all riled up and want to change things radically.

Democrats are forgetting this fundamental piece of political wisdom and they are going to pay for it, big time.

The poster girl of failure is going to be Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her forced-march partisan politics.

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