I try not to take sides whenever there are two or more equally qualified Democratic candidates in the mix for something. For instance, quite a number of well qualified Democrats are about to announce their intention to run for President in 2020, and I think they should all be heard. But when it comes to this sudden “debate” about whether Nancy Pelosi should be Speaker of the House, we’re looking at something fundamentally different – and I can prove it.
Quick, who is Nancy Pelosi’s main opponent for Speaker? Oh right, there isn’t one. That’s because there is no competition going on here, no challenger, no organic sentiment that Pelosi needs to be ousted. Instead what we’re seeing is five centrist Democrats frantically trying to trick the left wing of the party into turning against Pelosi for no good reason, and in favor of no particular alternative. Why?
These five House Democrat centrists are led by Seth Moulton – who has alternately described himself as a “progressive” and a “moderate,” thus proving that the word “progressive” has lost all of its meaning – and Tim Ryan, who is far enough to the right that he tried to restrict federal funding for abortion a few years ago before reversing his position. These five guys want to be able to go home and tell the people in their moderate districts that they took down a far-left liberal like Nancy Pelosi. It’s as simple as that. And yes, despite the nonsense they’re floating about her, Pelosi is as liberal as they come. She represents San Francisco, after all.
Nonetheless, these five centrists keep floating the notion that the Democrats need a Speaker who’s more liberal, or fresh and new, or younger, or really any empty excuse they can think of. The trouble is, none of these five guys can challenge Pelosi themselves (Tim Ryan tried and failed to oust Pelosi as House Minority Leader in 2016), because they’re all to the right of her, and their current scam is based on the notion that she needs to be challenged from her left. So instead of running against her directly, they keep trying to talk someone on the left into being their puppet candidate.
There are a relatively small number of Democrats in the House who have the skills, experience, and demeanor to succeed as Speaker. Names like Adam Schiff (ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee) and Elijah Cummings (ranking member on the House Oversight Committee) come to mind. But there’s a reason Schiff and Cummings are throwing their considerable weight behind Pelosi instead of throwing their hat into the ring: they know enough about how things work to know that Nancy Pelosi is far more suited to succeed as Speaker – right now, at least – than they are.
This has sent the five centrists scrambling to try to find someone on the left willing to quixotically challenge Pelosi. Earlier today they began floating the name of Congresswoman Marcia Fudge for Speaker. Okay, she’s been in the House for a decade, she knows how things work, and she’s generally highly regarded. But it’s not difficult to figure out what the five centrists are trying to do here: they’re floating an African-American candidate like Fudge to try to get the Congressional Black Caucus to turn against Pelosi. It’s not working. In the hours since Marcia Fudge’s name was first floated, key Congressional Black Caucus members, including Karen Bass and Bobby L. Rush, have hopped on Twitter and quickly endorsed Nancy Pelosi. They know this is a scam and they want nothing to do with it.
You have to figure that the five centrists will try again by seeking out some new angle for undermining Nancy Pelosi. The irony is that Seth Moulton and his centrists are everything they’re falsely accusing Pelosi of being: too far to the right, too divisive, too unable to build consensus, and too interested in pushing their own agenda to care what’s right for the party. This needs to end. It’s a centrist scam trying to sabotage Pelosi from the right by masquerading as a challenge to her from the left. It’s needlessly – and incredibly – harmful, at a time when America has enough problems.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report