Monday, November 08, 2010

When the truly defeated think they won

I am amazed at reading that Nancy Pelosi will try to remain as minority leader in the House Democrats group.  In other words, the GOP needs little bit more than to name its candidate for 2012, half of the election job already done for him/her.  In that article from the WaPo we actually read that the Pelosi camp is squarely putting the blame on Obama, making us wonder what the heck is going on within the democratic party, if they are now suicidal.

I do not want to speculate much on Pelosi and her gang reasons but right off the bat my instincts and significant knowledge of history tell me that it is a real, real bad move.  Most historical examples I can think of when a seriously defeated leader tries to hang on to power end up badly for this one and the "coalition" he represents. 

First, she is going against US tradition: House leaders have resigned their position for much less than the defeat the Democrats received yesterweek.  She can only come as petty, vindictive and worse of it: un-stateman like (the last one not surprising for me at the way she dished out Colombia).  That cannot possibly help.

Second, whether ones like it, it is irrelevant: the Liberals have been defeated last week and the only hope for the Democrats to retain control of at least the White House is to move to the center.  With Pelosi in charge this is nearly impossible.  In fact, it might force a dangerous split at presidential primary time with a moderate running against Obama and wrecking the campaign.  That happened in reverse in 1979 when Kennedy run against Carter, with the only result being a marked Republican dominance for the best part of the three decades that followed.  A comfortable GOP victory in 2012, including retaking of the Senate, will result in a two term GOP president and no hope to retake the Senate until at the very least 2016.

Third, and worse in my view, she will radicalize further Congress being the perfect punching ball for the Tea Party in its objective to take over the GOP by 2012.  A radicalization IS NOT what the US needs in these difficult times!!!!  See what happened in Venezuela in 2003-2004 to see an example on how radicalization in times of crisis only make things overall worse.  On the other hand, she could push enough democrats in the arms of moderate republicans and they will create a center of sorts to resist the Tea Party.  As such we would not be talking of 8 years of GOP White House, but maybe 16.

Since this is a blog about Venezuela I will give you the connection now.  Pelosi was reelected with 80%+ from San Francisco district, arguably the most Liberal district in the country, surrounded in the map by a few other blue districts where democrats never fall below 60%.  In other words she comes from a political ghetto and that is never a good idea for a majority leader to come from too safe a seat.  A House leader, in my opinion, should come from a seat where s/he needs to campaign a little bit every election, to make sure they get at least 60%.  You know, to keep the balance, a contact with reality.  When you commute all the time between San Francisco and DC you forget too easily how it works in switch districts from the South, for example.....

That is exactly what went on with the Venezuelan opposition too centered in Eastern Caracas or the plateau of Globovision.  Only when UNT from Maracaibo got its act together and non Caracas based PODEMOS decided to make a common political front did the Venezuelan opposition started mounting a more credible challenge to Chavez.  Even PJ knows that as it is finally starting to become more than a Metro Caracas party: the honorable second place finish of Guanipa in Maracaibo primary a couple of weeks ago would not have been possibel if PJ had not started running more serious candidates in the provinces.  That is the way to take power, to build a coalition that is based nation wide, with its strongholds and weak spots perhaps but PRESENT everywhere (where UNT seems to have faltered last September by the way, remaining to Maracaibo centered after all). 

In Venezuela for example the opposition needs to find a way to weaken chavista hold in the Llanos to strengthen its chances.  In the US if Pelosi remains minority leader the Democratic party will be based mostly in the North East and the Pacific West.  The rest will go Republican.  Even blueish areas of the Mid Atlantic will become pinker as the GOP will not mind filing a few moderate candidates there if necessary (Obama's seat went GOP, by the way... so the Midwest is already undergoing the pinkification  process).  Moderate GOP folks will tend to vote GOP when it matters, such as Court appointments, so they can be left to vote against the party in other issues if necessary.

Nancy, you need to go because you remaining there will end affecting Venezuela: your presence will make the US drift towards more navel gazing and we all will pay the price. 


  1. Anonymous5:38 AM

    mmm a bit out of topic, but.. couldn't resist.
    font confuse guanipa with PJ, guanipa did a campaign using the color blue and ran tv ads where manuel rosales said he was a great politician... people voted for him not for PJ, yes he is from PJ but, for him, the only way to ran the campaign was trying to confuse people about where he comes from, pj... unt?
    and, according to the people who worked on the primary (and what i saw for myself) a lot of chavista voted for him, so that 50.000 votes for pj will be reduce when the election comes next December, you will see that.
    The way PJ is trying to grow in Zulia, for me, is despicable, attacking UNT instead of Chavismo is a terrible mistake...
    When we go to vote, no one is aiming a gun to our head to vote for UNT, we vote UNT because we want, there are other 43 political parties people can vote for, if 90% of Zulias opposition votes for UNT is not because we think it sucks.
    PJ people should know better than that, and instead of trying to let us know that we are a bunch of pro-caciqueros tercermundistas, they should present real alternatives, proposals and a firm opposition to the enemy we are confronting witch is chavismo, Not me, or the rest of the more than 700.000 zulianos who likes, and votes for UNT.

    I find it really sad how all of the sudden, for the blogintellectuals of venezuela being part of UNT and supporting its candidates makes worse than chavismo itself.

    But well
    At least we keep winning, and winning big.

  2. Let us be clear about this, the Democrat Party today is controlled by hard left socialists. "Liberals" like Joe Lieberman and Juan Williams are not welcomed there anymore.

    They will not concede that they could be wrong, they can't admit they were wrong any more than Hugo Chavez can.

    Not only is a challenger likely against Obama but there is a possibility that leftist Republicans and "liberal" Democrats could run a third party candidate. Maybe NYC Mayor Micheal Bloomberg.

  3. The USA needs radicalization, but one of being finally responsible when it comes to economic matters.

    No more broken window fallacies (I guess you have read Bastiat, Daniel) like Clash for Clunkers or artificially low interest rates imposed by soviet commissar Ben Bernanke.

    If the concept of living within your means is radical right now, so radicalization is what that country needs to regain his former glory.

  4. "soviet comissar bernanke"

    oh dear.......

    as a long deceased good friend of mine would have said: it is better to have to read certain things than to be blind.

  5. Daniel, I agree with most of your analysis and disagree with your conclusions, for most of the same reasons.

    With (as noted in the linked Washington Post article) fewer moderate Democrats, Ms. Pelosi will probably become the House minority leader. As a result of that combination, there will not likely be much compromise with the new and substantial Republican majority; the more conservative of the Republican Young Turks should be able to get even more good (I suspect that you may disagree with the adjective) stuff accomplished than with a moderate House minority leader.

    The House is where the action is likely to be and much can be done through the appropriations process to decapitate many of President Obama's unpopular initiatives. I wrote here suggesting some arguably radical procedures which, if used, could refuse funding while minimizing the risk of a gridlock inducing presidential veto; ditto a refusal of the Senate to go along. Interestingly, I found this article later lamenting the possibility of an appropriations process even lacking the safeguards I had suggested.

    It will be an interesting two years. Stay tuned.


  6. Dan Miller

    It is not a matter of agreeing with you since at no point in my post I evoked the kind of legislation that the new House will try to pass. Thus it is not the point of my article in deciding whether these actions are good.

    As a reasonable fiscal conservative I was dismayed at the extent of debt BOTH Bush and Obama agreed to send the US careening into. That some spending cuts will come does not dismay me whatsoever. The problem is where those cuts will take place and whether some "social engineering" will hide behind these cuts (for example defunding education and Planned Parenthood which I consider vital).

  7. Daniel,

    I got the sense from your article that you rather wish that Ms. Pelosi would not be the House minority leader; As noted in my comment, I think having her will be good but for different reasons.

    We probably agree to a large extent on planned parenthood. I doubt that the religious right has enough support for its strict anti-abortion stance, although possibly enough for minimizing federal funding for abortions; I don't have a dog in that fight. We probably agree not so much on the Department of Education; some of what it does is useful, much of it is not. ObamaCare would, as a majority of the electorate seems to believe, be a financial and social disaster. Ditto EPA regulatory action severely to limit carbon emissions -- it is my understanding that the Obama Administration has pretty much given up on the Congress as to the latter, intending to leave it to the EPA. That, I think, is a poor choice.


  8. I like your analysis.

    Now, Pelosi knew that by forcing many moderate Democrats to vote against the will of their constituencies,they would likely lose their seats in the mid-term elections, but for her , what mattered most was to carry out her left wing agenda.On the other hand her party will be easier to control with fewer moderates in it.

    I agree it is a formula that can easily lead to a Republican win in 2012, unless the Tea party succeeds in selecting an un-winnable candidate like Sarah Palin.

  9. Dan Miller

    Oh, I see... Well, I suppose that for the GOP Pelosi is good :)

    But as a Liberal, Moderate or Commie depending on the reader, I think that she will sink us for a decade if she remains minority leader. Thus she is bad news. Note that I made a point to remind readers that I thought she was bad news almost a year ago already. She is just confirming in my bitch book list her status.

    What is really, really interesting in the story is to see whether a Democrat will challenge her. Even if the challenger loses, a good challenge is essential to start rebuilding the Dems. Otherwise, well, we are talking more than a decade maybe.

  10. "She can only come [across] as petty, vindictive and worse of it: un-state[s]man like"

    You mean more so than she has already? I mean, she has been all of those things in spades while Speaker, and was as well (just with less attention) in the rest of her Congressional career and before.

    She reminds me of Newt Gingrich in many ways, but Newt looks downright moderate and compromising (in his methods, not his views) compared to her for what he did in 1998. (I admit, she wasn't saddled with the responsibility for an idiotic government shutdown like he was - though if it had never been tried and McCain had won, I wouldn't put it past her. Hell, if McCain had won, I could believe she might try it even knowing how badly it went under Gingrich.)

    It does suggest an internal power struggle more than interest in the 2012 elections. But it could just be a trial balloon, and she'll back down after some negative response. Give her about two days, then we'll see.

  11. Didn't have time to read the comments (sorry), but I disagree with your post, Daniel. Pelosi may lose her leadership post in the Democratic Party, but I don't think it would be a mistake for her stay as the leader.

    Let me start by saying that despite being a Democrat in the past I didn't like Pelosi. She comes across as too much of a politician... but then that's what she is, as well as anyone who has a leadership position in Congress (regardless of party.) Having said, I have to admit that she was a great leader in a difficult period. She actually accomplished a great deal and if it weren't for Pelosi the Obama administration would have accomplished much less. She showed more cojones than anyone in the Senate and the White House, including Obama.

    I would certainly not blame her for the fact that the Democrats lost the House. And it is perfectly all right for an effective leader (which she was) to keep her leadership role in the party. In the US Congress that has happened before--she's not breaking tradition.

    What the Democrats should not do is to let Republicans and Tea Partiers direct the terms of debate within the Democratic Party.

    Below is the URL for an E.J. Dionne article after he spoke to Pelosi recently.

  12. Anonymous11:31 PM

    Pelosi was poison. Without her, the dems would not have suffered such a serious loss and perhaps we would have had an occasional glimpse of bipartisan ship.

    Let's just hope that Boehner doesn't prove to be the same. And let's just hope that someone starts minding to and praying for Venezuela.

  13. Madam Speaker is planning a party for 10 October to celebrate the accomplishments of the 111th Congress. I assume that we are all invited, with the exception of the folks who posted nasty comments and pictures at the link above.

  14. Daniel, I see you believe that central banks are inherent to capitalism, and that is just plain false.

    Remember that the current Fed was only founded in 1913. The USA had two former central banks. The first central bank was an idea of Alexander Hamilton, a big intervionist, while Jefferson and Madison (way more pro-market) were much opposed to the idea.

    Butlet's focus in the "central" of central bank. A institution centralizes the planning of vital aspects of the economy, dictating interest rates, loan rules, imposing what every bank is allowed to do, and printing money every time it seems convenient. Doesn't this sound like something that would fit perfect in a centralized economic system like socialism?

    I will quote someone who explained the problem of a central bank much better than I could ever:

    "The central bank cartelizes the entire banking sector into essentially a single bank that is not bound by the profit/loss constraint and which does not engage in rational economic calculation.

    The mechanisms that exist in a free competitive banking system, that prevent continuous monetary expansion, and which measure the demand for money, are arbitrarily removed. They are replaced by ad hoc decrees, based on extremely crude and imprecise measures (such as inflation targeting, interest rate targeting, unemployment measures, etc).

    Additionally, it creates a moral hazard because it implicitly guarantees support and even bails out struggling and/or failing banks (its function as the lender of last resort)."

    Here it is. Moral hazard, ad hoc decrees, distortion in the structure of capital by manipulation of money supply and interest rates. It would certainly leave many soviet comissars envious.


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