The Fix’s Worst Week in Washington
When Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as speaker of the House in 2007, she made history as the first woman to hold that role. When she handed the gavel over to Ohio Republican John Boehner on Wednesday, she made history again. In the symbolic election for a new speaker, 19 Democrats voted against her — the most defections any party leader had suffered since 1913, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The rebellion of her Democratic colleagues — 18 voted for someone else, one voted “present,” and another didn’t vote — was a sign of the enduring discontent directed at Pelosi from some in her caucus, where most Democrats (and a near-unanimous chunk of the party’s political strategists) had expected her to go quietly into the night after their 63-seat loss in the midterm elections.
Pelosi, her allies note, did nothing to whip up speaker votes, and they argue that, had she tried, she would have seen far fewer defections.
Perhaps. But the fact remains that Pelosi was forced to sit through a 435-member roll-call vote — who thought that was a good idea? — in which she was repeatedly rebuked by her colleagues, an unenviable ordeal for a politician who did more to get Democrats their majority in 2006 than any other member of Congress.
To top it off, Pelosi watched as President Obama named Bill Daley, a noted moderate who had been skeptical of Democrats’ direction on health care, as his new chief of staff — a move that virtually ensures that any hopes of continuing to push progressive policies between now and 2012 are off the table.
Nancy Pelosi, for watching the majority you built fall before your very eyes, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.