Nancy Pelosi is taking much of the blame for Democrats’ losses in the House in this month’s elections. People say she tried to do too much, rammed through a health care bill no one wanted, and she got what she deserved by losing her position as speaker.
Despite Republicans’ Fire Pelosi Bus Tour, I highly doubt that voters across the country were specifically targeting Pelosi when they went to the polls. I would be surprised if the average person on the street could tell you who she is. A poll taken in 2007 showed only 49% of people could identify her, and that was after she became speaker. Considering many people can’t name the vice president, that number probably hasn’t changed much.
It’s mostly a simple fact of math that removed Pelosi from power. Every single one of the 435 seats in the House was on the ballot. That’s a lot of races where anything can happen. Only a third of the Senate seats were up for grabs.
Pelosi’s hometown paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote about her re-election:
A look at election results in the city showed her with the highest support, percentage-wise, of any candidate running for state or federal office. Pelosi, who is vying to remain the House Minority Leader in the 112th Congress, claimed 79.97 percent support in her re-election bid.
So despite what Republicans say about her, Pelosi’s constituents clearly have nothing to complain about. She was re-elected with nearly 80 percent of the vote. Some candidates are lucky to win with 40 percent.
Pelosi’s real problem isn’t that she was bad at her job. It’s that she was too good at it. The most recent estimate is that the Senate is sitting on more than 400 bills passed by the House. According to Bloomberg:
House Democrats passed legislation overhauling the nation’s health-care system in March without a Republican vote. They also approved the most sweeping overhaul of financial rules since the Great Depression; an $862 billion economic-stimulus package; billions of dollars in assistance to automakers; and legislation that would cap carbon emissions and generate funds for renewable energy development.
Pelosi’s decision to run for House minority leader has been greeted with much derision from Republicans. They have hung a sign outside their offices that now reads “Hire Pelosi,” because they are all too happy to blame her for the country’s woes and hold her up as an example of everything that’s wrong with Washington.
I really don’t understand the vitriol directed at Pelosi. People hate her, and as far as I can tell it’s because she’s a woman in a position of incredible power who does her job damn well.
The Indianapolis Star has gone so far as to let readers submit captions for a cartoon of Pelosi looking in a mirror. She was supposed to be “reflecting” on something. I admit I might be reading too much into the cartoon, but it strikes me as a bit sexist that she was depicted with a mirror—an image that was bound to generate comments based on her appearance. To its credit, the paper didn’t pick any comments that related to her appearance as a winner. And the following cartoon in the contest was of John Boehner, the next speaker of the House.
The winning caption reads, “The election results are no reflection of me.” It’s clearly meant to be sarcastic, but I truly believe it. I hope that Pelosi wins her vote on Wednesday, because we could use more of her leadership in these tough times.