Rep. Heath Shuler Unable to Defeat Pelosi in Bid for Leadership Position
House Democrats held a leadership election today and, in a 150 to 43 internal party vote, re-elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to lead their party as the House Minority Leader in the 112thÂ Congress. Pelosi defeated Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), a Blue Dog Democrat, who announced he would be officially challenging Pelosi when he appeared on MSNBCâ€™s â€œMorning Joeâ€ with Joe Scarborough on Monday.
Conservative writers expressed delight that she would remain the leader: William Kristol, the neoconservative co-founder and editor of The Weekly Standard, put up a tongue-in-cheek post that told Democrats, â€œDonâ€™t be intimidated by the election returns! Stand by your woman!â€ And, â€œMay she live long and prosper in the job!â€ Allahpundit at the blog Hot Air wrote, â€œThis isnâ€™t a moment for righties to point out the leftâ€™s strategic errors, itâ€™s a moment to embrace them,â€ celebrating the fact that the GOP could run against Pelosi again in 2012. Top conservative news blogs Red State and Pajamas Media highlighted how this would send a signal that Democrats havenâ€™t learned from the mistakes that led to their defeat on Election Day.
Much of the same could be said about Republicans re-electing Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) to lead their party today. While top liberal news sites didnâ€™t have any postings immediately after Boehnerâ€™s election to Speaker of the House, liberals might have pointed to news that Americans were experiencing a bit of â€œbuyerâ€™s remorseâ€ after the election. Liberals might have said in similar tongue-in-cheek fashion now wasnâ€™t the time to highlight how conservatives didnâ€™t get key issues facing Americans. And, if liberal blogs like Huffington Post and Daily Kos werenâ€™t paying more attention to stories more substantial than the leadership elections, they might have run a headline celebrating the fact that bronzed-face Boehner will be the face of the Republican Party in 2012.
Of course,Â Pelosiâ€™s re-election came with bumps in the procedure. Some House Democrats including Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) attempted to delay the leadership election. DeFazio and others wanted to do this to send a â€œsubstantial message.â€ But, the attempt failed by a vote of 129 to 68. The party didn't go forÂ Â a Third Way Democrat.
Moving forward, conservatives will continue to point out how Pelosi is â€œfar-left.â€ A few will hypothesize that she will provide President Barack Obama cover because she will take on President Obama. President Obama will be able to set himself apart from her and argue that he is a centrist moderate and not a liberal because he disagrees with Pelosi. This will provide cover for his far-left socialist communist fascist Marxist agenda.
The rancor and irresponsible politics of the Republican Party and the vigorous hounding of Democrats and President Obama by cable news especially Fox NewsÂ will continue to be amplified. It will spread widely through right wing talk radio or Internet postings, which will be disseminated widely through email and social networking technology. The Democrats will have to face this down.
Liberals will have to struggle with Democrats, who will be far more timid than they were in the first two years of the Obama presidency. The Blue Dogs will create friction among Progressive Caucus members. TheyÂ want to transform the Democratic Party into a party that looks even more like the Republican Party.
Those who find the two most prominent parties to already support similar corporate agendas might find that surprising, but Blue Dogs are tired of losing to the conservative media echo chamber; thatâ€™s part of why Heath Shuler ran for the leadership positionâ€”he wanted to be able to run in 2012 and show his district Pelosi did not represent the Democratic Partyâ€™s views and thatâ€™s because conservative media and right wing attack ads have pounded at him in his bids for re-election since he won in 2006.
Tea Partiers and Blue Dogs have scoffed at this statistic, but it indicates something very real: Progressives (which Glenn Beck has dedicated his show to attacking) â€œfared pretty well, while Blue Dogs and New Democrats bore the brunt of the losses.â€ According to Darcy Burner ofÂ the progressive blog Crooks and Liars, â€œthe Congressional Progressive Caucus lost only three of their 76 House members: Reps. John Hall of New York, Phil Hare of Illinois, and Alan Grayson of Florida.â€ The Blue Dog Coalition lost 30 of its 55 members while New Democrats lost 27 of their 69 members.
Progressives came out of the election â€œwith almost 40% of the Democrats in the House and roughly three times as many members as the remaining Blue Dogs.â€ Progressives through Pelosi will have the power to move the party in a direction that is more supportive of things like not extending tax cuts for the rich and defending Social Security and Medicare, which the American people overwhelmingly support. They will get to take on Republicans who play games with earmarks and pretend cutting earmarks actually cuts deficits.
What the effect of Blue Dogs will be is hard to tell. But, they will feel pressure to leave the party. A few may become Republicans. And, really, that is what Blue Dogs that feel persecuted or under pressure should do. Join the GOP. Thatâ€™s where corporatist politicians belong. They belong in a party that will never ever apologize for engaging in reckless obstructionist politics or siding with corporations at the expense of the people time and time again.
Photo by KCIvey