Nancy Pelosi has a huge amount of clout and influence within the Democratic caucus, and as I see it there are three pillars of her power.
1. IDEOLOGY: She's a progressive, and that means she's trusted by one of the largest caucuses in the House. As annoying as it is to have the Blue Dogs and the New Dems meeting with the President and carping about the need to be friendly to business, it would be nearly impossible to manage the caucus if progressive members were unhappy with the leadership. They like Pelosi, and that's her powerful base.
2. MONEY: She's a great fundraiser, bringing in more cash to Democratic challengers in 2006 than any House member. She comes from cash-rich California, and she can just bring in money.
3. JUDGMENT: She has very good and respected political judgment. It's little known that in 2005, it was her call to not offer an alternative plan to Bush's Social Security privatization scheme. Not only did she go against the advice of pollsters that Americans wanted a solution to the Social Security crisis, she aggressively squelched rival plans, including one from Rahm Emanuel. At the time, the strategic question within Democratic circles was whether to oppose Bush's plan directly or offer an alternative. She made the right call, and she enforced it.
Pelosi isn't always going to make the right decision, and it's going to be very difficult to manage this caucus. But she is well-respected by House members for her tenacity and grit. I saw it up close on net neutrality, when she was one of our big champions. This is someone you want on your side.
And she's now our leader.
Friday, December 15, 2006
"Why is Pelosi so powerful?"
The answers, by Matt Stoller: