Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The “art” of distancing oneself from Pelosi

Alternative headline for today’s Politico piece:  “Bobby Bright, you’re doing it wrong!”

rep-nancy-pelosi_0 Politico is warning Democrats that, while it’s Ok to run as if you never voted for her as Speaker of the House, how you go about putting distance between yourself and the polarizing Madam Speaker is important.  In other words, you can ask voters to ignore the fact that you voted in near lock-step with Pelosi and your Democrat colleagues to take over one-sixth of the American economy, wreck the US energy sector and voted for the largest pork barrel spending legislation in the history of the planet.  Go ahead and claim that you’re an “independent voice for your District,” but don’t bash the speaker while you’re at it:

Pelosi aides and allies said they understand that embattled members sometimes need to distance themselves from the speaker and note that she doesn’t take it personally, although they caution that how it is done is just as important as why it’s done.

“Don’t do something that can be used against another Democrat,” said a Democratic official close to Pelosi. “Talking against Washington insiders is not the same as the ‘Pelosi energy tax’ or ‘Obamacare.’ You have to be smart here.”

One not-so-smart way to do it: the clumsy way Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) handled a question last week when asked about whether he planned to vote for Pelosi as speaker. Bright went so far as to joke that she “might even get sick and die” and not be able to seek her post again. Bright, who occupies a heavily Republican, Montgomery-area seat, has kept mum following his controversial and widely circulated remarks.

The art of distancing oneself from Pelosi takes many different forms. In Pennsylvania, Rep. Jason Altmire, facing a challenge from attorney Keith Rothfus in a GOP-oriented, Pittsburgh-area seat, has begun running a TV ad showing supporters praising the second-term Democrat for “stand[ing] up” to Pelosi and spotlighting his opposition to the health care bill.

In Indiana, Rep. Joe Donnelly — who’s trying to ward off GOP state Rep. Jackie Walorski — has begun airing a 30-second spot slamming “Nancy Pelosi’s energy tax.”

Two North Carolina Democrats are getting into the act as well. Rep. Mike McIntyre, facing his toughest general election challenge in over a decade, is up with a new TV ad saying he doesn’t “work for Nancy Pelosi.”

His home state colleague Rep. Heath Shuler went even further last week, suggesting to an audience last week that he might run for speaker himself after receiving a question about whether he supports “Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House” — a query that drew knowing laughter from the crowd.

Frankly, it’s not going to do any good.  Rats leaving a sinking ship still drown in the tide.  Yesterday, Gallup released its weekly poll on the generic Congressional ballot.  Republicans hold a historic 10-point lead. In fact, Gallup has never seen such a margin for Republicans since it started asking the generic ballot question.  Rasmussen shows somewhat similar numbers, averaging around an 8-point advantage since June, reaching as high as 12 points and never falling below 6 points. 

A lot can happen between Labor Day and Election Day, but if numbers like this hold up through the next two months, it won’t matter how much Democrats flee Pelosi.  Both their fates—and her fate as Speaker of the House—are baked in the cake.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.