Broken Clock

Though I could easily have titled this “I told you so“.

Look, Chris Cillizza is a moron, useful only as a Barometer of Beltway Groupthink. I should not need to remind you that the Centrist No Labels Problem Solver Caucus has never solved a single problem and consists mainly of Democrats In Name Only who wish they were Republicans so they could openly espouse their preferred policy of stealing all the money of the 99% and giving it to the wealthiest 1%, shoving the Sick and the Poor and Children and the Elderly out on an Ice Flow to die.

Especially the Black and Brown ones, the miserable “takers”.

Chris Cillizza is a card carrying member of the Civility Cult who bemoans “partisanship”, but only when Democrats are in charge and get a bit “uppity”. Never at all when White Guys in Brooks Brothers suits storm Recounts and disenfranchise Black and Brown people and suppress their votes.

Racist? Y’all stop being racist and I’ll stop talking about it.

There’s a reason why the hash tag given to the leaders of the anti-Pelosi faction is “#FiveWhiteGuys”-

The #FiveWhiteGuys Are Offering a Sucker’s Bet to Anti-Pelosi Democrats
By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire
Nov 14, 2018

Alas, it is my painful duty to report that the #FiveWhiteGuys are led by Seth Moulton, congresscritter from the Sixth Congressional District here in the Commonwealth (God save it!), and a man who has been farting higher than his own arse ever since he got elected in 2014. Moulton ran a strong campaign. He ousted an endangered incumbent who was all tangled in so much family corruption that a Republican pickup of that seat was a distinct possibility—or, at least, as distinct a possibility as was ever enjoyed by a Massachusetts Republican. Almost immediately, Moulton signed on to the challenge to Pelosi’s leadership mustered up by the anti-charismatic Tim Ryan of Ohio. Almost immediately, and most spectacularly, Moulton began spending a lot of time in Iowa. This is a fellow who thinks a great deal of his own inherent political gifts.

Now, it seems, they’ve gotten the band back together again. The #FiveWhiteGuys are Moulton, Ryan, Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, and Bill Foster of Illinois. The driving forces remain Moulton and Ryan, with the latter the putative leader. After an election in which the Democratic Party continues to elect a demographically and politically diverse collection of new House members, Ryan is still insisting that the party needs to “reach out” to angry white men in places like Ohio when, in fact, if the midterms proved anything, it is that the Democratic Party’s future is in places like Arizona and Nevada, and even Georgia and Florida, while, except for Sherrod Brown, god bless him, Ohio is a lost cause. It was an outlier even in its own geographic area. There were Democratic—and progressive—victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. Ohio and, yes, Iowa, were loss leaders.

This did not stop Moulton, who declines to challenge Pelosi himself, from spouting off in Roll Call that he and his group have the votes to block Pelosi’s elevation to the speakership on the floor of the House—although, as has now become customary, Moulton declines to provide details on exactly how many members of the House have signed on.

I am willing to concede—indeed, I am devoutly hoping—that this talk is all a bluff. The #FiveWhiteGuys seem to think they can scare Pelosi out of running, which is completely foolish. This is because, if it’s not a bluff, and Moulton really has these votes, it almost certainly means that he’s cut a deal with some Republicans to get them.

He spends an awful lot of time blowing off steam about bipartisan problem-solving and all those other conjuring words that will magically transport you to cable green rooms, but that also completely ignore the fact that, now that it’s in the minority, the Republican House caucus will be even crazier than it was under Paul Ryan. And arguing that the party needs a “new generation of leadership,” while playing coy over who that might be, and whom they might owe for their elevation, is a bit of smoky legerdemain that smacks of a three-card monte game.

For those members, old and new, who oppose Pelosi from the left, the #FiveWhiteGuys are offering a sucker’s bet. The #FiveWhiteGuys are of the school that believes that the Democratic Party’s needs are best served winning back all those disgruntled folks at diners in the Mahoning Valley, a theory fairly well demolished last Tuesday. It is very unlikely that a Green New Deal or Medicare For All is high on their list of priorities. The only argument that the #FiveWhiteGuys have that might resonate with their new progressive colleagues is that Pelosi is old and has been in Congress for a long time. Period. That’s not enough to dispense with the party’s most effective legislative leader since Lyndon Johnson.

So what the #FiveWhiteGuys are flirting with is not a brawl within the party, but a three-way brawl in which the progressive side and the #FiveWhiteGuys side both work to bring Pelosi down, which would set the stage for an absolute bloodbath between those two forces for the right to pick her successor. (And, strictly from a provincial standpoint here in the Commonwealth—God save it!—we are preparing to have Richard Neal as chairman of House Ways and Means and James McGovern as chairman of House Rules. If this attempted coup screws that up, Moulton’s going to have some serious ‘splainin’ to do back home.)

There is no need for any of this. Pelosi stays as speaker. Steny Hoyer goes, replaced by, say, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Jim Clyburn does what he wants, and the new generation moves into position as deputy whips under him. Then the Democratic Party can get back to the primary business at hand: beating the Republicans sufficiently hard and sufficiently often until the Republican Party regains a semblance of sanity. It’s a long, hard job.

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

That about sums it up for me.

Anyway, back to Barometer. Chris Cillizza, while sometimes reliable in that role, is right about the facts only when they coincide with his preconceived beliefs. Broken Clock you see. Today he “reports” (he also has no talents except transcribing Press Releases, reading from a Teleprompter, and flipping through a Rolodex) that the anti-Pelosi revolt by ConservaDems is over.

The anti-Nancy Pelosi forces just admitted defeat
by Chris Cillizza, CNN
November 26, 2018

Immediately after the 2018 midterms, the Democrats opposed to Nancy Pelosi returning as speaker of the House started talking a VERY big game.

Asked how confident he was that the anti-Pelosi Democrats had enough votes to keep her from the speakership, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, a leading face and voice of the Pelosi resistance, told reporters he was “100% confident.”

Which makes this, from The Washington Post’s Robert Costa on Monday, sort of, well, ironic:

“A high-profile critic of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signaled on Monday that he is seeking to hold negotiations with her about changes to her leadership team, a development that makes her ascendancy to the speakership likelier as her opponents continue to struggle to recruit a challenger.

“The decision by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) to shift his attention from Pelosi — by far the front-runner for the speakership and currently running unopposed — to potential discussions over the lower-ranking positions of House majority leader and House majority whip underscored Pelosi’s strength and the desire of her critics to reshuffle the leadership even if she holds the gavel.”

Let’s be very clear about one thing right at the start: Moulton doesn’t try to negotiate for peace if he thinks he’s winning the war. He negotiates for peace because he knows the war is lost.

And any clear-headed analysis of the last 10-ish days since Moulton made his “100% confident” boast makes clear that the Massachusetts Democrat is simply reading the writing on the wall. Consider:

  1. Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who was seen as a potentially formidable challenger to Pelosi, announced she wouldn’t challenge the California Democrat. (On a VERY related note: Pelosi announced that Fudge would serve as the chair of a subcommittee on election security in the 116th Congress.)
  2. New York Rep. Brian Higgins, who signed a letter opposing Pelosi last week, announced that he would, in fact, vote for her as speaker. (On a VERY related note: Higgins said he had secured a pledge from Pelosi to prioritize an infrastructure bill in the next Congress.)
  3. Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch, another Pelosi detractor, said if no Democrat runs against her for speaker — and no one has announced — he will vote for her.

For people who have watched — and bet against — Pelosi over the years (and I was once very much one of them), this all feels familiar. She didn’t become the first female speaker of the House by simply being a nice person who raises lots of money for her colleagues. She became the first female speaker by understanding power and how to wield it. Neutralizing Fudge with a prime appointment on an issue the Ohio Democrat cares about is just such a master stroke. And once Fudge was gone, the prospects of even a marginally competitive challenge to Pelosi effectively disappeared — turning opposition to her into the political equivalent of charging at windmills

Faced with such a non-starter, Moulton — as well as other members of the Pelosi resistance — are doing what politicians do best: Finding a way to make lemonade out of lemons.

So Moulton goes public with his plan to negotiate with Pelosi as a way of trying to create leverage against her to throw one of the people below her — Steny Hoyer of Maryland or Jim Clyburn of South Carolina — over the side.

“Leader Pelosi wants to boil this down to a personal argument, but this is so much bigger than her,” Moulton told the Post. “It’s about the entire, stagnant three-person leadership team and having a serious conversation about promoting leaders who reflect the future of our caucus.”

Riiiight. Except that 10 days ago, Moulton was bragging that he and his fellow anti-Pelosi forces had the votes to keep Pelosi from the speakership. Not to keep Hoyer from serving as majority leader. Or Clyburn from serving as majority whip.

This sort of goalpost moving is what defeat looks like — whether Moulton wants to admit it or not.

I told you so. Were I Pelosi I’d have the #FiveWhiteGuys scrubbing the floors of the Capitol Hill Restroom with a toothbrush until 2020 when I’d Primary them out of a job.