Christmas came early for the Republican Party: Nancy Pelosi announced she intended to remain the leader of House Democrats.
Pelosi’s Captain Queegish decision – to maintain her liberal leadership in defiance of the overwhelming inclination of voters to “get back to the middle” – thus assured the Republicans of the kind of public relations lightning rod they require to mount a credible campaign to unseat President Obama in 2012.
Not since discarded Minnesota Viking receiver Randy Moss berated the mom and pop providers of a post-practice meal for serving food “not fit for my dog” – has there been a more self-centered, team-sacrificing decision.
In abandoning her party’s best interest by stubbornly refusing to leave, Pelosi becomes the “Oliver Perez of the Democrat Party.” Perez, of course, is the 29-year old New York Mets pitcher, who makes a guaranteed $12 million a year and is horrible. Last year, when the Mets begged him to go to the minors, the obtuse Perez and his weasely agent Scott Boras adamantly refused to allow the team’s goals to interfere with their own self-interest.
And so it is with the soon-to-be former Speaker of the House.
Here are 4 reasons why, from a public relations standpoint, Nancy Pelosi will hurt herself and her party by remaining as minority leader:
1. Polarization Persists
Nancy Pelosi is the most polarizing political figure in the nation – this administration’s answer to Dick Cheney.
Before she announced her defensive decision last Friday, Speaker Pelosi sat down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer and claimed, “This election wasn’t about me.”
Au contraire Madam Speaker. The midterm election that swept Republicans back to power and decimated the moderate Blue Dog Democrats in the House was very much “about” you.
Many Republicans, in fact, ran on a plank to “Fire Pelosi.” Tellingly, after her bombshell announcement Friday, the Republicans gleefully adopted a new line, “Hire Pelosi.”
The point is that Pelosi’s ardent liberalism – and that of her colleagues, such as Barney Frank and Henry Waxman, who will help reelect her minority leader – is no longer acceptable to the vast majority of voting Americans. (That’s what the midterms were all about. Hello!).
Today, after massive unemployment and failed government spending policies, liberals of the Pelosi ilk are even more out-of-step and polarizing. Her reascension to leadership in the House can only hurt her party’s standing and reputation.
2. Democrats Don’t Want Her Back
Nancy Pelosi is one tough hombre – (a lot tougher than Oliver Perez!).
As such, few in her party wish to tangle openly with such an iron-fisted, steel magnolia.
But though most House Democrats won’t admit it, the fact is that their clear preference – especially in light of the mood of the country – would be to promote Pelosi's deputy Steny Hoyer to succeed her. The long-term Maryland congressman is more of a middle-of-the-roader, well-liked by Democrats and Republicans as well. He would an ideal choice in light of the country’s sharp turn toward the center.
But Hoyer is also the height of political diplomacy and won’t challenge Pelosi’s will. Her selfishness, therefore, will deprive her party of not only what’s best for it, but also what it wants.
3. Her Legacy Is Already Assured
Nancy Pelosi has already cemented her place in American political history.
She will always be remembered as the first woman to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House
of Representatives. -- And not even the Tea Party can take that away from her.
Moreover, on the plus side, Speaker Pelosi got things done – cap-and-trade, health care, the stimulus, and financial Regulation bills.
On the minus side, of course, Speaker Pelosi got things done – the bills she passed were the same ones repudiated by the electorate.
But the fact remains that her legacy as Speaker is assured, and forcing her party to accept her back against its will can only detract from her legacy.
4. Finally, She Doesn’t Need It
Nancy Pelosi is 70-years-old. She has seven grandchildren. And she’s rich – her husband is a
very successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist.
She has been in politics her entire life; she comes from a political family -- both her father and brother served as mayor of Baltimore. She has been in Congress for 23 years and has attained the highest position the House of Representatives has to offer.
She possesses the resources and capabilities to pursue other interests and conquer other fields. Therefore, the clear and proper public relations action – the most dignified move she can make and the one that would win her great credit from her beloved party – is to, on second thought, not stand for reelection but rather allow another to ascend to the leadership of the minority.
Who cares what Scott Boras might recommend?
Fraser P. Seitel has been a communications consultant, commentator, author and teacher for 40 years. He teaches public relations at NYU and is the author of the Prentice- Hall textbook "The Practice of Public Relations," now in its eleventh edition, and co-author of "Idea Wise."