Is outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mentally stable? Sanity - at least for Democrats - is subjective. Yet, following the Republicans’ historic election landslide, it was assumed that Mrs. Pelosi would step down as House Democratic leader. Some even thought the unpopular San Francisco liberal would resign from Congress.
After all, it was Mrs. Pelosi who became the poster child for the radical leftist agenda pushed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. The GOP successfully nationalized the election by making Mrs. Pelosi the very symbol of limousine liberalism, a leader who presided over an out-of-control, out-of-touch and arrogant Congress. The Republican slogan was simple and effective: “Fire Pelosi.”
In the House, she was the spear point in Mr. Obama’s assault on Middle America, ramming through legislation such as the stimulus, the health care overhaul, “cap-and-trade,” financial regulatory reform and massive spending increases. On Obamacare, Mrs. Pelosi did the heavy legislative lifting - ensuring that the law established a government-run command-and-control health care economy. She is the true architect of socialized medicine.
The Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid Congress pushed the country to the left. On Nov. 2, the country pushed back, giving the Democrats a “shellacking” that cost Mrs. Pelosi her job as House speaker. The election also destroyed the careers of countless Democrats - including numerous Blue Dogs and fiscal moderates in crucial swing districts.
Mrs. Pelosi helped radicalize the Democrats into a European-style social democratic party that is devoted to a cradle-to-grave welfare state, milquetoast pacifism, neo-pagan environmentalism and social liberalism. Her speakership represented the final triumph, the culmination, of the radical left’s takeover of the Democratic Party - a march to power that began in the revolutionary 1960s. She has successfully cut off the party’s moderate wing, crippling the Democratic Party as a viable national force in mainstream politics.
The election signified the revolt of Middle America - especially against a political class that can no longer fulfill the basic duties of government: Win wars, balance budgets and secure borders. Like the president, she bears responsibility for the complete failure of liberal governance.
If Mrs. Pelosi had a scintilla of integrity, she would have fallen on her sword. Instead, she has declared her intention to remain as minority leader - in spite of intense opposition from some House Democrats. A growing number in the rank and file are publicly opposing her. “The reality is that she is politically toxic,” said Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois. Unless many more Democrats speak out, however, she will retain her top leadership post.
Hence, the public is witnessing a shameful spectacle: the suicide of a major political party. The refusal to remove Mrs. Pelosi shows how beholden the Democrats are to their far-left base - public-sector unions, trial lawyers, the anti-war net-roots, feminists, the homosexual lobby and environmentalists. It shows also that they are utterly detached from the interests of middle- and working-class Americans.
Republicans are right to cheer on Mrs. Pelosi. She will remain a potent symbol of liberal excess, enabling the GOP to rally conservatives and independents against her. She is a gift from the political gods - a gift that keeps on giving. A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee gloatingly said, “We welcome her decision to run for House minority leader based on her proven ability to create jobs for Republican lawmakers.”
Mrs. Pelosi’s decision reveals that, for her and most congressional Democrats, ideology trumps pragmatism. She desperately wants to prevent resurgent Republicans from rolling back the main accomplishments of the 111th Congress - especially any attempts to repeal or defund Obamacare.
She therefore will fight a rear-guard action, hoping that time (and GOP mistakes) will enable Obamaism to become woven into the fabric of American life - similar to the New Deal and the Great Society. Mrs. Pelosi said as much in a letter to her fellow Democrats, writing “we have no intention of allowing our great achievements to be rolled back.”
At her core, Mrs. Pelosi is a 1960s anti-American leftist who has ruthlessly pursued power. In the 1980s, her cause was nuclear disarmament and appeasement of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s, she opposed welfare reform and championed organized labor - including card check. She seeks amnesty for illegal immigrants. She calls man-made climate change the greatest threat to our national security. She opposes the war on terror. She supports homosexual marriage and abortion on demand - even locking horns with the pope over the Catholic tenet regarding abortion. She repeatedly attacks corporations for allegedly exploiting workers and ravaging the earth. She is an anti-capitalist progressive who espouses class warfare. In short, she epitomizes the modern Democratic Party - Saul Alinsky in action.
The Democrats would be wise to dump Mrs. Pelosi like a cheap date. Otherwise, their continued leftward lurch will reduce them to permanent minority status, a rump party confined to its electoral strongholds on the two coasts - and nowhere in between.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.
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