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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Nancy Pelosi persists, even as the House Democrats’ prospects fade

From The Washington Post:

It had been a good week — a very good week — for Nancy Pelosi. So good, in fact, that she and her leadership team felt the need to caution their House Democratic troops not to gloat over the fact that they had scored a clean win against the majority Republicans over raising the debt ceiling.

But as the House Democrats met for their annual retreat in this Eastern Shore town, there was one subject the minority leader appeared determined to avoid: her grim prospects for regaining the speaker’s gavel in this year’s midterm elections.

A little over a month from now, the San Francisco congresswoman, who holds the distinction of having been the first female House speaker in U.S. history, will turn 74. By the reckoning of many scholars and historians, she was one of the most powerful speakers in modern times — and one of the most polarizing.

Now, Pelosi finds herself with fewer and fewer peers in the House. Her friend and consigliere, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), has decided to retire, as has key ally Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who is regarded as his party’s most able legislator. More departures may be in the offing as well.

Pelosi argues that Democrats will ultimately be vindicated on the new health-care law, which she counts as her biggest achievement. And even with her party in the minority, she plans to make Republicans squirm on issues such as raising the minimum wage, rewriting immigration laws, extending unemployment benefits and assuring equitable pay for women.

Democrats need to win back 17 seats in November to retake the House, which would defy history. Generally, midterm elections are tough on the party of a president in his sixth year, and the persistent unpopularity of the new health-care law could prove a further drag. Indeed, Democrats are struggling to avoid losing the Senate, too.

Close aides say that they have no clue what Pelosi intends to do in the long run. But they add that there’s one scenario that could entice her to stick around: the prospect of serving as speaker again, working with a president named Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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