Monday, May 09, 2005

Nobody likes a whiner…

…but sometimes a disagreement is just that, and sometimes a complaint is warranted. David Sirota makes a number of good points while discussing a Roll Call article that he describes as claiming that…
"...these "moderates" are still whining simply because a few weeks ago Pelosi had the guts to tell the truth and level with Democrats who sold out the party by supporting the credit card-industry written bankruptcy bill.
...but I think this is a story probably best left alone.

I can't really comment much on the nature or validity of those complaints. Roll Call's just a bit too pricy for those of us without think tank connections, and Sirota's excerpts don't say exactly who those "moderates" are (though it isn't that hard to connect some of the dots) or what the tone and substance of their reported complaints might be. His claim that they have "sold out the party" may be taken at face value by some who find themselves in constituencies that actually were sold out, but it's a debatable contention itself.

Similarly debatable , I think, is this...
In other words, all she did was tell the truth and try to keep her party together - exactly what a LEADER is elected to do.
In ideal circumstances, I suppose, it is part of a leader's job to "keep her party together," but those circumstances don't exist until she brings her party together. Sirota has a complaint himself, that these unnamed "moderates" are...
...sending the embarrassing message to America that Democrats are divided on even the most fundamental economic issues.
Well, there ya go. Like it or not, Democrats are divided on, among other things, some fundamental economic issues. On the issues Sirota highlights, there's a minority faction in the Democratic Caucus with positions that are out of step with the progressive wing of the Party, but that minority is significant enough to make the divisions in our party real. I disagree with the "moderate" minority among Congressional D's, but were I in a position of leadership, I'd think hard before I discounted them, or engaged in public rebuke.

20% of the Caucus voted for the permanent repeal of the inheritance tax and the Buscho energy bill. That's not insignificant. 25% voted for class action 'reform,' and fully 36% voted for bankruptcy 'reform.' Those are real divisions, demonstrating that there is, in fact, no partisan concensus on those issues. Pelosi's job (and I think she's fully equal to the challenge) is to find a way to bring those Democrats to agreement with the Caucus majority. There are any number ways to do so. Public chastisement is probably the least effective among them.

I don't know that Pelosi crossed the line in her conversations with wayward D's. I don't know the degree to which those who suffered her presumed wrath are actually dismayed. All the information available seems to be second hand and dubiously sourced. Tolerance for division is a venerable part of our Party's character, but it was a lot easier to tolerate in the days of substantial Democratic majorities. That's just one of the way in which Nancy Pelosi faces a far more arduous task than many of her predecessors. There's simply no reason to make it harder by holding her responsible for enforcing a non-existent unity on some issues.

Of course, her real job is to lead us back to a House Majority. Speaker Pelosi will have tools for uniting the Party that are sadly unavailable to Leader Pelosi. In the meantime, calling for the heads of 25-35% of the Caucus membership while placing an unrealistically high expectation of performance on the Leader by assigning her a job description that ignores our very real internal divisions simply doesn't help at all.

A Democratic majority will heal a multitude of ills.

Eyes on the prize.


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