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Time for Pelosi to call it quits as Democratic figurehead?

After a stinging defeat in the midterm elections, with a loss of some 60 seats to their Republican foes, one might expect Democrats in Congress to be making some major changes to their leadership. But Nancy Pelosi, who became the poster girl for the Democratic party's policies as Speaker of the House, is choosing to remain in power.

The GOP is practically giddy. Rank-and-file Democrats are disenchanted. But so far, no one is publicly challenging her for the role of minority leader.

In making the decision to remain the face of Democrats in the House, Pelosi confronted a classic leadership question: Is it showing bigger leadership to continue to fight for your beliefs and your accomplishments after a historic loss, or to step aside amid controversy that hurts the greater good and let others take the reins?

There's not an easy answer. But in this case, symbolism wins out. Pelosi has become such an extraordinary lightning rod that she could very well make things even worse for her party than they already are by sticking around.

No doubt Pelosi believes she is doing the right thing. Her own reason for retaining the post, from her Twitter announcement, was that she was "driven by the urgency of creating jobs" and protecting two of her party's big accomplishments--health-care reform and Wall Street reform--along with Social Security and Medicare.

Her supporters point to her effectiveness at passing major legislation, her fundraising skills and her reputation as one of the few Democratic voices who can stand up to Republicans in Congress--who have already shown that their appetite for compromise is slim. Some are even giving her kudos for staying in the fight and not pulling a Sarah Palin and quitting her post.

But no matter how much fight she may have in her or how effective she may be, she is profoundly unpopular. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 60 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable view of her, even higher than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. During the elections, she was the face of countless negative campaign ads from the Right, and many of her colleagues did their best to distance themselves from her. Not even President Obama is as polarizing as the California Democrat.

For better or for worse, selecting leaders is a very symbolic act. Someone may be an effective fundraiser, or a brilliant manager, or a seasoned negotiator; but if they are the wrong face for the wrong time, they have a much harder time being any of those things. With President Obama talking compromise and greater back-and-forth (he hopes) with the newly empowered Republican party, having Nancy Pelosi as the figurehead of the Democratic Congress sends the message that things are unlikely to change.


By Jena McGregor

 |  November 8, 2010; 10:06 AM ET |  Category:  Bad leadership , Change management , Federal government leadership , Public leadership , Women in leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Her supporters point to her effectiveness at passing major legislation, her fundraising skills and her reputation as one of the few Democratic voices who can stand up to Republicans in Congress
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But mostly her fund raising skills...

Posted by: theFieldMarshall | November 9, 2010 12:34 PM

The Dems need a new face?.....duh I thought Ms. Nancy was providing that already.....with her facelifts that are happening about every six months.....chuckle...couldn't resist that.

Posted by: ReneesOpinion | November 9, 2010 10:55 AM

By all means retain Fancy Nancy as the democratic 'leader'! She, along with Reid and Obama, will serve as a constant reminder of how the liberals do business:

*Creating bills without comprehending their impact on the citizens

*Saying one thing and doing another (the Joe Wilson affect)

*Developing laws in back rooms that will not stand the light of day

*Perpetuating graft and corruption (to wit, Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters, Eddie Johnson, and Sanford Bishop)

*Dithering on national security policy in favor of special interest groups' desires

*Manipulation of the senior population by cutting $500,000,000,000 from MEDICARE, but telling 'those dumb seniors' nothing will be cut from them!

Yes indeed -- Keep Fancy Nancy in the spotlight, and we will all swoon each time we see her glide to the microphone!

PS: Have you been invited to Fancy Nancy's 'LOOK AT WHAT I DID IN THE 111th CONGRESS -- CONGRATULATIONS TO ME -- PARTY ON NOVEMBER 10?

PSS: When will Fancy Nancy return Pelosi Air to the US Air Force???

Posted by: wheeljc | November 9, 2010 10:30 AM

Nancy Pelosi has been the most effective member of the Obama administration to date. That is the single biggest reason for this hokey campaign to malign her. Some day the Dems or Progressives will develop a public relations efficiency comparable to the GOP, the only difference being that they will talk about what's real and not engage in pure propaganda.

Posted by: gbocknek | November 9, 2010 10:21 AM

Nancy needs to stay and moved to a position of greater visibility. She is the champion of the left and must be ever present in the eyes of the American people. In that way, all will be able to see the real enemy of our country. (Think Socialist)

Posted by: richard36 | November 9, 2010 9:28 AM

The article is titled "A New Face For The Democratic Party". This should present no problem for Ms. Pelosi since she is an ardent participant in cosmetic surgery and botox.

Posted by: ridge_road_marco | November 9, 2010 8:05 AM

So the democrats should use negative ads by republicans and the latest polls to make an important decision about leadership in the congress. Expertise is overshadowed by a personality contest???

Posted by: denver13 | November 9, 2010 6:56 AM

I too wonder how the author of this article as well as Pearlstein are credited with any skills in the leadership department, but then again, I wonder how Sally Quinn is regarded as an expert in religion given her moral failings. I like John Meacham but what qualifications does he bring to being the religious guru? The post doesn't need figureheads for these sections, especially silly ones.

Posted by: Afraid4USA | November 9, 2010 6:13 AM

The author of this post is an expert on leadership because . . . ?
Hate to sound old & cranky, but so many these days seem to be most proficient at self-promotion - think Sara & Joe Miller. Ms Pelosi is effective, obviously not an egotist. It takes strength & courage to endure being scapegoated. I believe she is sincerely looking out for the best interests of those who most need to be looked out for!

Posted by: mathteacher | November 8, 2010 10:42 PM

Talk about time for people to be calling it quits, don’t you think that it would be time for all of those who were in leadership positions from 2000 to 2008 to be calling it quits? A decade of dismal leadership, accompanied by years of deniability, all with zero accountability.
True leadership displays taking responsibility for your actions. It requires accountability for you errors. Without transparency and honesty, your followers will never trust you.
Real leaders recognize that their power comes from those below them. Without the support of your followers, citizens, co-workers, and soldiers, you are nothing.
Great leaders have always come from bottom-up leadership styles. Your supporters have a vested interest in your goals and an equal say in the actions you take to achieve those goals.
The Republican Party has always applied a top-down style to their organization. Everyone is in lock step with whatever the leadership decides. If you stray from the message, you are outcast.
I find your column on leadership to be severely lacking in cohesion and common sense. It’s like Will Rogers used to say, “That’s the problem with common sense. Sometimes it doesn’t make that much sense, and sometimes it’s not that common”.

Posted by: JD76 | November 8, 2010 10:40 PM

Is there any Democrat in the House who comes from the middle of the country, has run a successful small business and/or has served in the military and has the leadership skills necessary for the job? That's the person who I would support to lead the Democrats in the House. Failing that if you have someone who grew up as part of the suburban middle class that might be a good figurehead to combat the right wing agenda--Rahm Emanuel would have been a good choice.
Nancy Pelosi is a good person and did a decent job of promoting the agenda while leader. Her problem is the left coast big city liberal thing and what the party needs is the middle class, middle of the country, salt of the Earth thing. I know it's stupid, but who people will vote for is someone who they think is like them and supposedly better able to understand their needs.
At least that's how it looks here in the middle of the country.

Posted by: ThomasFiore | November 8, 2010 10:34 PM

Thank God California didn't fall for all the factless Republican balogney. As for Pelosi, it's simply refreshing to hear someone consistently talk about the economic importance of maintaining the middle class. You're not going to hear that from the red crowd. Are jobs important to the Repubs? No, after the election the first thing they went after was the health care bill. They didn't even mention jobs.

Posted by: Tess6 | November 8, 2010 7:46 PM

';';;';';';';';';';';';

In the past two years, how many times did the libs/demos talk about jobs? It was all about health care and hitting on the wall street people. What got the Reps. elected, it was talk about JOBS. Lets look at the states that are having the most problems with budgets. California (Mostly liberal demos) New York the same. Maryland, Mass, Michigan. Go through the 2008 to 2010 governors and see how many liberal demos there are and how their states are doing. Then look at the Reps state governors and how their states are doing.

Posted by: dy19spider57 | November 8, 2010 10:23 PM

No No No WaPo. Nancy, you go girlfriend! I mean it darlin', you get right out there in public, assume a Democratic leadership post, and be loud and proud. Go baby doll. Yell at the top of your older-than-dirt lungs. Make lots of noise, and don't yield on anything. Be the face of the democratic party. Don't leave that to the boys.

I can't wait 'till 2012. Nancy Pelosi is a dinosaur (tyrannosaur) and an albatross. The Republicans must be doing back-flips and gyrating in other ways I can't mention here. I bet Pelosi receives thank you cards from the Republican leadership in the House and Senate - "Give us-ins a hug and a little kiss shnookems."

Posted by: JHG_sec405 | November 8, 2010 10:08 PM

The Rube Goldberg monostrosities that the Democratic Congressional leadership oversaw are the disasters that weighed us down. The financial reform that didn't actually reform the banking and investment industries and the health care reform that didn't actually fix rising costs or other systemic problems in medicine, were more than disappointing. Given the really serious crises we face right now, these legislative wastes of time have been serious mistakes that the Democrats won't recover from in time to win the White House in 2012.

Pelosi, go away.

Posted by: AsperGirl | November 8, 2010 9:41 PM

This is a garbage post and presents no coherent argument. I wonder what hidden agenda is for these authors. They argue that the Pelosi has become a lightening rod and therefore she must go. This is somewhat idiotic. Who made here a lightening rod? Who would democratic prefer instead of her who was a tough as nail and is responsible for lot of the achievements of this feckless and cowardly administration. She must resign because the republicans don't like her?

Posted by: kevin1231 | November 8, 2010 9:21 PM

Yes Pelosi was effective. She helped pass a health care bill that she didn't read and admitted we had to pass it to know whats in it. This bill was passed with outright lies regarding its costs and other provisions. The American People hate it an want it repealed. Pelosi has become a caricature of the limosene liberal, commandeering a private jet to fly back and forth between SF and DC. With her botox features and oversize gavel she is an incredibly silly and mean spirited crone. On the other hand, what a sweet gift to the GOP. With Pelosi and Reid remaining at the controls for the Dems it will reinforce the image that Obama and his crew has not heard the message from the voters last tuesday. They will rue this decision in 2012.

Posted by: jkk1943 | November 8, 2010 9:01 PM

Pelosi could kick Limbaugh's, Hannity's and Beck's butts with one hand tied behind her back. She's smart, she's tough, and she doesn't back down from the fear-mongering, hate-filled, religious nuts who now run the Republican party. Give 'em hell, Nancy!

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | November 8, 2010 8:40 PM

If the Democrats allow Republicans to determine Democratic leadership with the vicious, sexist attacks of personal insults that have been directed at Pelosi, the Democrats really are in trouble.

Posted by: twm1 | November 8, 2010 8:40 PM

Thank God California didn't fall for all the factless Republican balogney. As for Pelosi, it's simply refreshing to hear someone consistently talk about the economic importance of maintaining the middle class. You're not going to hear that from the red crowd. Are jobs important to the Repubs? No, after the election the first thing they went after was the health care bill. They didn't even mention jobs.

Posted by: Tess6 | November 8, 2010 7:46 PM

Just because the Republicans demonized Speaker Pelosi doesn't mean she should give up leadership. She was darned effective. The male Republicans seem to have issues with women anyway as evidenced by their rude behavior when the Democratic women were speaking on behalf of the health care bill. They acted like bratty junior high school bullies.

Posted by: MNUSA | November 8, 2010 7:44 PM

Right wingers condescendingly remark that if Pelosi retains the House Democrat leadership position, then it's proof that they "just don't get it".

No, the Dems do indeed get it. Pelosi was extremely effective at her job, and she is a thorn in the side of the House GOP. They would much rather have a placating leader of the opposition, one who will eagerly "assume the position" and quake in fear of Mr. Pull-a Boehner and the rest of the House majority leadership.

Not ... gonna ... happen.

Posted by: labman57 | November 8, 2010 7:34 PM

One way to think about this - who better to deal with the Republicans? I think the Republicans were hoping not to have to deal with her...eh?

I have a feeling that Pelosi will give them all they want and then some.

Posted by: larryg1 | November 8, 2010 7:15 PM

Hey Boehner! Where is your jobs plan?

Oh yeah ... with the health care plan.

Posted by: knjincvc | November 8, 2010 6:55 PM

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Posted by: wheeljc | November 8, 2010 6:14 PM

If Nancy Pelosi were to step down, who would be agreeable to those who believe she is wrong for the post? Any suggestions?

A sentimental favorite could be Steny Hoyer, because he's left out of the running for minority whip? Bad reasoning. Who else? One of the arrogant Blue Dogs who refused to support the majority of the party with their fiscal restraint? They don't deserve it, and they don't represent the majority of the Democrats. Any other names out there?

Pelosi may be unpopular (I've never been able to figure out just WHY she is) - but is she effective? Yes, and can she bring the House members along on legislation - yes. She may be regarded as a barrier to those in the party leadership who want to cater and "compromise" more with the GOP and to appear concilliatory for the next election in 2012. Not a good move - a craven move.

Let Nancy be Nancy. She has excellent political instincts, and her determination to do her job is admirable. If another candidate inspires more, let that person come forward and be considered. If not, Pelosi should get the job.

Posted by: robinx | November 8, 2010 6:02 PM

In 2 years Nancy Pelosi got her House to pass more than a dozen major bills including the stimulus, health care reform, Wall St reform, credit card reform, student loan reform, children’s health insurance expansion, cash for clunkers, and the fair pay act. Each passed in the Senate, made it through conference and were signed into law by President Obama.

In 1995, Newt Gingrich got his House to pass all of its Contract for America items, about 32 measures. After that, most barely limped a single inch further. Only 3 made all the way through Bob Dole’s Senate and were signed into law, including one that made Congress follow workplace laws and another that reduced paperwork costs. Not quite the revolution he planned.

Of course the GOP dislikes Nancy Pelosi. As a leader in the majority she’s been more effective than they ever were at moving legislation into signed law. As a leader in the minority, she’ll be just as forceful playing defense.

Political opinion is fickle. Pelosi was riding high in 06 and 08 when the GOP was getting a thumpin’. Who knows what 2012 will bring. Even Gingrich, a Democratic bullseye for years, seems to have rebounded.

Posted by: bluestater | November 8, 2010 5:52 PM

Dear Dems,
PLEASE let Nancy stay.
Republicans will even let her keep her big office and big jet.
FOX will dedicate a weekly Nancy special.
Let the first bi-partisan act of this new Congress be supporting Nancy for Minority leader.
We just hate to lose a Ruler who has such a unique way of relating to the local peasants.

Posted by: jfv123 | November 8, 2010 5:30 PM

If the Dems want to change leadership in the House, now is the time to do it. I'm a Dem, but have not been enchanted with Pelosi. She seemed too tone deaf to the American public many times. Like other politicians who have high unfavorable ratings, there's a reason for it.

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | November 8, 2010 5:27 PM

Please Nancy, Please stay on! We need you to achieve a veto-proof Republican majority in the House in 2012.

Posted by: delusional1 | November 8, 2010 5:24 PM


Keep laughingstock Pelosi around as a reminder of how and why the Dims were slaughtered at the polls in 2010.

Posted by: screwjob22 | November 8, 2010 5:17 PM

Just because the Republicans have tried to demonize Nancy Pelosi does not mean that she is a bad Speaker. Quite the contrary, she has obviously been too effective for their tastes. Why do Republicans like to demonize key Democrats like Pelosi, Obama, and so forth? They know that they do not have anyone who can match their political skills. Hence, they play the "no" game and too many American voters get duped into voting for this party of NO, a party with no real ideas and no solutions. They basically want their buddies in big business and the super wealthy to get government welfare by not paying their proportional fair share of the tax burden. See how they are so adamant that the government take a 700 billion dollar hit just to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the upper one percent. The Republicans like to demonize poor people as well. Perhaps they would like to work 40 hours a week on their measly wages.

Posted by: EarlC | November 8, 2010 4:53 PM

Why wasn't there an outcry for Boehner and McConnell to step down after the trouncing the GOP received in 2008? Could it be that the punditry has different standards for the two parties? If the GOP falters, it's not their leaders' fault. If Dems go down, heads must roll.

Posted by: Ceeee | November 8, 2010 4:43 PM

This is the problem with picking leaders from liberal strongholds like San Francisco. You know, never in a million years, will a Republican win a seat there. Pelosi is secure barring spectacular scandal. The zombies of SF roll out of the graveyard and push the button marked "D" year after year.

That seat is safe. But the problem is, a representative from that kind of liberal enclave is completely totally out of touch with what the rest of America is thinking. In SF, they are probably still feeling chills up and down their legs over Obama, and they are likely giddy over Obamacare. Not so for the rest of the USA.

So when you elect her to party leadership, you get an incumbant who will not go away. The same can be said for her lackely Chris Van Hollen from MD...never in a million years will the voters of Montgomery CO MD vote R for that seat. You risk by having those safe seats in leadership a figurehead that is insensitive to what most of America thinks.

Posted by: Wiggan | November 8, 2010 4:20 PM

I totally disagree with the premise of this blog. The right wing want progressives to roll over and go away. Despite what Obama and the lipton crowd says, that's not going to happen. I totally agree with lufrank1! Nancy P. has a spine unlike most of the other Democrats in power. Americans like a fighter. Pelosi is less likely to run away from her shaddow and is not a DINO like the blue DOGS. Maybe she can teach Obama a few tricks ;)

With all the media wind being sucked up by the rabid, caustic right, their leadership claiming no compromise, and their lunitic proxy like the FOX gang, we need a strong personality with values like those represented in Nancy Pelosi. She is incredibly smart and knows the system. If she gets pushed out, then the Democrats should go with Henry Waxman or Barnie Frank!

Posted by: AbeRnr | November 8, 2010 3:53 PM

Pelosi should stay put. Why is this even being discussed? Because the GOP hates her? Are Dems that back stabbing?

Posted by: BigR1 | November 8, 2010 3:49 PM

Was there a call to fire John Boehner when the repubs lost in 2008? Nancy Pelosi is the most effective speaker of modern times.

Posted by: stldem | November 8, 2010 3:34 PM

Choosing a leader may be a symbolic act, but it is also a practical act. When action and symbolism combine, realists choose realistic leaders who choose action and leave the symbolism to others, such as pundits who have trouble using up their column inches while still sounding substantive even though they are saying something that falls just short of nothing.

Posted by: morphex | November 8, 2010 3:21 PM

Come on, WIMPS!
We NEED to have at least ONE Grizzly in Government who will fight for our vast numbers of (apparently) spineless and lazy liberals!

Please hang in there AGAIN, Ms. Pelosi, and thanks for your tremendous work these past two years!

Posted by: lufrank1 | November 8, 2010 2:40 PM

I am going to go out on a limb and say each of the previous posters is a card carrying, it doesn't matter who is running as long as they are a democrat, voter. In other words, people who blindly vote without understanding anything as long as the label is correctly listed. While I am personally not a fan of Pelosi- note I don't subscribe to any political denomination- I disagree with the above sentiments. Why? It is hard to label someone a strong leader when THEIR party holds an absolute strong majority. There was never any question of the House passing, i.e., agreeing on policies/legislation. They had a full-proof majority in the house. She has never led in a situation that we going to live under for the next two years, so exactly how is she a strong leader? If anything, her leadership style was (and most likely still is) indictive of a dictator, not a true leader of a democratic institution. A divisive environment requires a leader who knows how to negotiate, not one who subscribes to Theodore Roosevelt's philosophy of leadership. It will be interesting to see what the GOP is able to do, but I doubt they have a true leader as well.

Posted by: devilsadvocate3 | November 8, 2010 2:23 PM

Nancy Pelosi is unpopular with Republicans because she is effective in pushing the policies she believes in. The public thinks they don't like her because they have been buried in an enormous and expensive Republican bashing.
Undoubtedly, the Republicans would prefer a Republican for the House Minority Leadership as well as the House Majority Leadership. Thank goodness this one is not their choice.
Please stay and fight for us, Nancy. Many of us still love you.

Posted by: adelemcdaniel | November 8, 2010 2:03 PM

Pelosi should step down because the Repubs don't like her? If the Repubs don't like someone, it's usually because that person stands up to them.

Posted by: cwarddc | November 8, 2010 2:02 PM

I wholeheartedly disagree. Ask most people why they don't like Nancy Pelosi and they will mutter something undistinguishable, they don't know, they just hate her. If she bows to this onslaught of Republican bashing that will be only the beginning of the right wing triumphs. I admire her guts and willingness to take the heat, I certainly don't have it, but she stands there and takes it, Boehner and all.

Posted by: wendystevens | November 8, 2010 1:55 PM

I disagree as well....

Nancy Pelosi is the reason the health care bill was signed into law.

No way do we bow to the gross lies broadcasted by the GOP.

Those STUPID voters who were taken in by them chose get her heads out of the sand and do some studying. Voting is not a race to the bottom.

Posted by: celested91 | November 8, 2010 12:48 PM

I disagree. Being on the losing side does not mean you were on the wrong side. I think keeping Pelosi now is the best thing the democrats can do. She will prove a worthy adversary for Boehner. When the pendulum swings back it will show we have the courage of our convictions.

Posted by: billy_z | November 8, 2010 12:40 PM

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