In 1976, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the current favorite to become speaker in the incoming Democrat-controlled House, was tabbed to be a Democratic National Committee member. In 1966, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the man now favored to become majority leader, was first elected as a state senator in Maryland. In 1971, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the man running unopposed to become majority whip, joined the South Carolina governor’s staff after failing to win a seat in the state assembly.
They’ve been in the game ever since. That’s a combined 141 years of active political careerism by the aged triumvirate that hopes to retain the reins of power over House Dems. By contrast, newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is all of 29 years old.
Pelosi turns 79 in March. Hoyer is 79 already, and Clyburn is 78. But despite murmurings of unrest in the ranks all three are poised to stay in the saddle as the 116th Congress convenes in January. The main problem with Democrats seeking new leadership is that they have no promising names to offer up as alternatives to the old warhorses. This is directly due to Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn doing nothing to groom young House Democrats to eventually replace them in all the years they have been running the show.
Pelosi has a slim margin for error in garnering enough votes to secure the speakership, but she is an experienced pol who knows how to play the game. She has already headed off the threat of one would-be challenger, Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH), by offering her the chair of a subcommittee on elections in the new House. And she peeled a name off the list of 16 Democrat House members who signed a letter calling for new leadership by promising Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) that she would push the infrastructure legislation he is championing.
So there is no reason to believe Pelosi will be unable to strike some kind of deal as well with the nine Democrats on the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus who have said they cannot support her unless she agrees to back rules changes the caucus is seeking in the new House.
Whereas Pelosi has paid lip service to the reality of her soon-to-be octogenarian status by saying she plans to be a “transitional” speaker, the sad fact for Dems is their House leadership is dominated by fossilized hacks desperate to cling to their positions for as long as humanly possible. It is hilarious to observe these Swamp dinosaurs resort to gender and racial pandering as they attempt to do just that.
“If Hillary had won, I could go home,” Pelosi told CBS’s Face the Nation on Nov. 11. But since Clinton lost to President Trump in the 2016 presidential election, she has no choice, you see, but to continue her decades-old career just a little bit longer. Not for herself. For all the women.
“You cannot have the four leaders of Congress [and] the president of the United States, these five people, and not have the voice of women,” she said. “Especially since women were the majority of the voters, the workers in campaigns, and now part of this glorious victory.”
Of course this being the Democratic Party, Pelosi opponents were instantly put in a bind by the appeal to gender identity politics. So they had to squirm and fluster about there being other women capable of leading the House too. It can’t be about the strongest potential candidate to challenge Pelosi. No. It has to be a woman. In one swift move, the veteran establishment player hacked into her potential challenger pool.
“There’s plenty of really competent females that we can replace her with,” prominent Pelosi foe Tim Ryan (D-OH) was reduced to telling The New York Times. He then cited Rep. Marcia Fudge. And so Pelosi then went and made her deal with Fudge. It really is this easy.
Clyburn, as a black politician, showed he could play this game too.
Facing a challenge from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Clyburn dropped word that unnamed critics were referring to him as a “figurehead” in his role as assistant Democratic leader. And he said figurehead means token. And token naturally is a “dog whistle” for… well, you know. “I don’t know where it’s all coming from,” Clyburn told McClatchy News Service. “But someone came to me over the weekend and told me that [they heard], when I was whip before, I was a figurehead.”
Some 50 years in Democratic politics and you learn a trick or two.
That’s it. That’s all he had. Clyburn then generously dragged DeGette into the nasty insinuations as he absolved her personally of responsibility for “rhetoric that I don’t think is complimentary to the [Democratic] caucus.” Some 50 years in Democratic politics and you learn a trick or two.
DeGette shortly afterward dropped her bid, completely clearing the way for Clyburn to retain his No. 3 House Dem leadership position and become majority whip.
With the Democrats as a party being devoid of real ideas and fully enmeshed in identity politics, it should be only natural that it is this very lack of substance that prevents the would-be House rebels from discarding their petrified careerist leadership. By turning the cheap identity hustle against any opposition in their own ranks, Old Democrats rest assured that their Swamp standing remains secure.