Pelosi: Dem hero­ine or al­ba­tross?

Imperial Valley Press - - Opinion - JOE GUZARDI

To some Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems in­vul­ner­a­ble. This year, two Pelosi events that would shame av­er­age Amer­i­cans, and cost them their jobs, were like wa­ter off a duck’s back.

First, Pelosi fool­ishly and brazenly ripped up Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s State of the Union ad­dress, which some as­serted vi­o­lated the Fed­eral Records Act. Sec­ond, Pelosi was caught mask-less at a San Fran­cisco hair salon. In-per­son hairstylin­g vi­o­lates San Fran­cisco’s COVID-19 safety pol­icy, a crime.

Nev­er­the­less, the 80-year-old Pelosi kept her $223,000 a year job, but­tressed by her bulging stock port­fo­lio, that con­trib­utes to her $114 mil­lion net worth, all while the salon’s near-bank­rupt owner closed her doors after 15 suc­cess­ful years.

The two in­ci­dents rep­re­sent un­pro­fes­sional, haughty bad mes­sag­ing from Pelosi, and are part of the rea­son so many Democrats are quixot­i­cally plot­ting to re­move her as speaker, a po­si­tion she’s held twice dur­ing non-con­sec­u­tive terms from 2007 to 2011, and again from 2019 to to­day.

After the Elec­tion Day smoke cleared, Pelosi, who had boasted that the House would gain a least 20 seats, wit­nessed in­stead lost rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Pelosi, say many crit­ics, is solely to blame.

Ross Baker, a Rut­gers Univer­sity po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor, said that House Democrats who lost their seats won­dered why Pelosi, with the Nov. 3 elec­tion just days away, wouldn’t com­pro­mise with Pres­i­dent Trump on a COVID-19 re­lief bill. Baker pointed out that even though a com­pro­mise would ap­pear to give Pres­i­dent Trump a vic­tory, an im­per­fect bill that the rep­re­sen­ta­tives could have taken back to their con­stituents would have been bet­ter than noth­ing.

As events un­folded, Pelosi’s de­fi­ance and bad karma -- at least out­side of San Fran­cisco and other ul­tra-pro­gres­sive hubs -- re­sulted in the loss of seven in­cum­bent seats to Repub­li­cans, with po­ten­tially more to come when the fi­nal tally is in. To Pelosi’s de­trac­tors, the gap be­tween a pro­jected 20-seat win and the real world seven seats lost to Repub­li­cans is un­ac­cept­able.

But the harsh re­al­ity is that Pelosi isn’t go­ing any­where. Pelosi is a pro­lific fundraiser for her Demo­cratic al­lies. After nearly two decades in lead­er­ship, Pelosi is on tar­get to raise about $1 bil­lion for her party -- an eye-pop­ping sum. This elec­tion cy­cle Pelosi raised $227.9 mil­lion for Democrats -- most of it for the House cam­paign arm -but she also redi­rected $4 mil­lion for Bi­den from an Au­gust event and sent nearly $5 mil­lion to the state par­ties.

If noth­ing else, Pelosi is a savvy po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tor who has built her three-decade long House ca­reer around cor­rectly read­ing the tea leaves. In the Nov. 3 elec­tion Pelosi, as she al­ways does, crushed with nearly 80 per­cent of the to­tal votes cast for her over House op­po­nent and fel­low Demo­crat, Shahid But­tar. Pelosi’s elec­tion cam­paign strat­egy is, to say the least, un­ortho­dox. Since her first 1987 cam­paign Pelosi, a vir­tual shoo-in, has stead­fastly re­fused to de­bate Repub­li­cans, Green Party mem­bers and pro­gres­sives like But­tar. Not only won’t Pelosi face op­po­si­tion can­di­dates, but her staff refuse to an­swer ques­tions about why the speaker won’t en­gage.

Should the Demo­cratic House cau­cus vote to re­move Pelosi, and many in­sid­ers think she can’t garner the nec­es­sary sup­port, the lead­ing can­di­date to re­place her is, say those pur­port­edly in the know, New York’s Ha­keem Jef­fries, House Demo­cratic Cau­cus chair.

From the per­spec­tive of Amer­i­cans who op­pose amnesty, open bor­ders and en­ti­tle­ments to il­le­gal im­mi­grants, as well as em­brace fewer em­ploy­ment-based visas and sen­si­ble refugee and asy­lum pro­grams, Jef­fries has the iden­ti­cal na­tion-bust­ing vision as Pelosi. Since 2013 when Jef­fries was first elected, in his 77 im­mi­gra­tion-re­lated votes, he came down in fa­vor of more im­mi­gra­tion and more af­fir­ma­tive ben­e­fits to il­le­gal im­mi­grants 99 per­cent of the time.

As strange as it sounds, pro-en­force­ment Amer­i­cans, which polls show are in the ma­jor­ity, might be bet­ter off with the po­lar­iz­ing Pelosi. While Jef­fries is ob­scure, the mere men­tion of Pelosi’s name raises the hack­les of mod­er­ate Democrats, and could lead in 2022 to the GOP re­gain­ing the House ma­jor­ity.

Joe Guz­zardi is a Pro­gres­sives for Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form an­a­lyst who has writ­ten about im­mi­gra­tion for more than 30 years. Con­tact him at jguz­zardi@pfirdc.org.

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