NY Times to Pelosi: Back Off, GOP Won With ‘Fur-Hatted Commissar’ Smears

November 8, 2010

(ChattahBox Political News)—The New York Times editorial board penned a screed against current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) bid to become Minority Leader of the new legislative session. The paper asks the question, “But is she really the best the Democrats can come up with as their leader as they slip into the minority?” The editorial goes on to praise Pelosi’s many accomplishments as the first female Speaker of the House, but concludes that since the Republicans have been so successful in unfairly demonizing her, as a wicked witch and a “fur-hatted commissar” she should back off from pursuing a leadership position.  So, because the GOP excels in sexist bullying, Pelosi should just throw in the towel?

After Pelosi announced her plans to run for Minority leader, in the wake of losing control of the House to a Republican electoral surge, a number of male Blue Dog Congressman have come out publicly to oppose her. But the Blue Dog caucus was decimated in the mid-terms. Their cowardly retreat from Democratic policies and legislative accomplishments didn’t win over voters.

The New York Times makes the case that the smaller Democratic Caucus, now needs an effective messenger, as opposed to Pelosi’s skill in “shepherding hundreds of important bills toward passage.”

“Pelosi announced on Friday that she would seek the post of House minority leader. That job is not a good match for her abilities in maneuvering legislation and trading votes, since Democrats will no longer be passing bills in the House. What they need is what Ms. Pelosi has been unable to provide: a clear and convincing voice to help Americans understand that Democratic policies are not bankrupting the country, advancing socialism or destroying freedom.”

“If Ms. Pelosi had been a more persuasive communicator, she could have batted away the ludicrous caricature of her painted by Republicans across the country as some kind of fur-hatted commissar jamming her diktats down the public’s throat. Both Ms. Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, are inside players who seem to visibly shrink on camera when defending their policies, rarely connecting with the skeptical independent voters who raged so loudly on Tuesday.”

But, as pointed out by the Political Animal’s Steve Benen, whatever the merits of the editorial board’s basic premise, their logic is a bit faulty.

“I happen to think Pelosi would make a fine Minority Leader, but I’m willing to concede her detractors’ argument isn’t ridiculous. For one thing, in the wake of drastic losses, it’s not unusual to expect a leadership shake-up. For another, the Times is right that Pelosi is a better legislator than communicator.

But there’s one detail the editorial neglected to mention: Pelosi has already been House Minority Leader, and she proved herself pretty good at it. In fact, she was Minority Leader in 2006 — the cycle Democrats took back the House majority.

“If the post isn’t “a good match for her abilities,” why did she thrive in the position before?

Good question.


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