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House Speaker has always had significant political muscle. She twisted arms to get the unpopular Obamacare through in March 2010, putting President Obama in her permanent debt and amassed tremendous Democrat prestige. She marshalled her Democrats to get re-elected Speaker in 2018, despite a rebellion of sorts on her far left flank, as well as the reservations aboout her jurassic age.
She seems to have done it again, getting elected Speaker again, this time on a razor thin margin, and actually short of a majority.
According to Fox News:
Pelosi received 216 votes to 209 for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who again will be the chamber’s minority leader.
Earlier, 427 members announced themselves as present — 220 Democrats and 207 Republicans. Pelosi needed a majority, or 214 votes, to return as speaker, meaning that she could afford to lose just six Democratic votes.
She lost four, meaning she was elected again with just two votes to spare.
It was far from a sure thing, given the fury she has drawn from Democrats for all the losses of House Democratic seats. Remember the bitter off-mic post-election statements of Virginia Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who nearly lost her House seat? “Don’t say ‘socialism’ ever again.”
Spanberger was one of the four.
But it may well have been more than four who wanted her out. Two weeks ago, a poll of all categories of voters showed that a majority wanted Pelosi out. Democrats pay attention to numbers like that. Acccording to Politico:
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows most Democrats think she should keep the gavel, but a majority of voters oppose Pelosi staying on as speaker. Only 31 percent of all voters think Pelosi should be elected as speaker when the new Congress begins, while 56 percent think she should not.
Think: Swing states.
Nevertheless, Pelosi pulled it off. For sure it wasn’t easy, given the discontent on all sides of her party. To drive that point home, she even scrapped COVID rules, which in the past she called President Trump a “killer” for, and wheeled in a sick contagious congressmember in the throes of full-blown COVID to spread the disease around in the name of Pelosi’s continued power.
But her real winning trump card appears to have been in the Squad.
Here they are, all proudly vaccinated ahead of you and not socially distancing.
Several of the squadsters posted it on Twitter, which is to say, they were glad to fling their self-granted exemption from social distancing right into our faces. Squadster rookie Rep. Cory Bush’s mask looks like it has chipmunk teeth which is why I clicked for the biggest version here to see for sure.
It looks at though it amounts to the Squad, a rabidly far-left group that hates Pelosi, still somehow managed to elect her.
Which was far from a certain thing. They could have gone off on their own, forced a vote on an extremist, and the Democrats would have no choice but to move along.
That they voted for Pelosi instead suggests some pretty significant deal-making, or this being Democrats, arm twisting.
This time, it was most likely Nancy’s arm that was twisted. Although the Squad support for Pelosi was dubbed a sellout, the Squad held all the cards and all the power. According to Legal Insurrection:
The new Congress convened Sunday at noon, and the House held its Speakership vote.
With only a razor-thin majority, Democrats could not afford to indulge 15 members voting against Nancy Pelosi as happened two years ago, nor did AOC or the rest of the ‘Squad’ defect despite pressure from the left not to “sell out.”
Effectively, the Squad passed up an opportunity to control the Democratic Party all on their own. The Squad sold out as Legal Insurrection noted, but what did they get in return. They obviously could have asked anything of Pelosi given her desperation to cling to power, and rest assured, they would get it. What did Pelosi offer them in exchange for their votes? What did she offer that would disgust other Democrats and put them in an even more desperate position for re-election? Why did she throw moderation away?
It comes as a red wave is building in the House, what with Democrats losing more than a dozen seats in the November presidential election, and traditional U.S. political patterns suggesting the Republicans are on track to win anyway. Kowtowing to the Squad and buying them off is going to make the red wave ahead much bigger.