A lack of self-confidence is not one of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s problems. But Pelosi’s unabashed use of open threats and her death grip on power are a very big problem for her party.
Pelosi’s performance at her press conference on Thursday was epic in its demonstration of both her enormous self-regard and her complete confidence that nothing and no one will remove her from her powerful perch. While no one really expected that comments from a few stray dissident members of the House caucus would cause her to resign, her contempt for those critics and her willingness to threaten them publicly takes your breath away. She didn’t just mock them for “having fun on TV.” She pointedly reminded them that “every action has a reaction . . . every attack provokes a massive reaction.”
Pelosi’s honesty here is a refreshing spectacle, if not a particularly edifying one. It reminds one more of President Trump than of any Democrat. Not every politician — let alone one who operates on a national stage, like Pelosi — is willing to brandish her brass knuckles in public with a smirk, confident that she wouldn’t suffer from doing so. Nor would even the greatest egotists working with her in a Capitol overflowing with egomaniacs be able to keep as straight a face as she managed in her presser when she praised herself publicly as a “master legislator” and an “astute leader.”
To which the dissidents reply: Anyone who has led them to four consecutive defeats, bringing their House caucus to its lowest point in the last 90 years, and whose name has become a cudgel with which to beat every House candidate put forward by the Democrats, ought to be astute enough to know when it is time to go. But for a woman who as Democratic leader has clung to power grimly for 14 years, it will clearly take more than a few defeats to pry her from her office.