David Corn, at Mother Jones, on “How Pelosi Saved Boehner’s You-Know-What“:
When the voting began on the controversial—and ugly—debt ceiling bill in the House of Representatives on Monday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Democratic leader, did not know how many votes House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had for the measure that had been crafted by President Barack Obama and the Republicans. Boehner had not reached out to her to make certain that the crucial legislation designed to prevent a potentially disastrous US default would be approved. When Boehner “went to the table”—brought the bill to a vote—he “had no idea” how many votes he had, Pelosi says.
The speaker, as it turned out, did not have enough Republican votes to pass the bill—only 174—and he had made no arrangement to guarantee its success. When there were minutes left for the vote, and it became apparent that Boehner would fall far short of the 216 votes necessary for passage, Pelosi’s Democrats began voting in favor of the measure. “We were not going to let it go down,” she told a small group of journalists on Wednesday morning.
In past years, a House speaker and the leader of the opposition would probably confer before such a crucial vote and figure out how to move the legislation through the chamber. (Boehner and Pelosi both were supporting this bill, albeit Pelosi quite reluctantly.)… Yet when the final dramatic vote arrived, Pelosi was surprised that Boehner was so short of the magic 216. “When they didn’t come to us for votes,” Pelosi recalls, “we thought they had the votes on their own.”
But Boehner didn’t. So the Democrats, having waited to see how many Republicans would back the measure, started filling in the gap. Pelosi didn’t have to send any signal. Her Democrats, she says, are a “sophisticated” group, and they could see that without Democratic support the bill would fail…
So to prevent default, Pelosi held her nose and halfheartedly encouraged fellow Democrats to vote for legislation that she insists will “deter economic growth.” This fight, she adds, was not propelled by Republican concern for deficit reduction; it was “about destroying the public space”—that is, the tea party’s desire to weaken government. And this battle, she concedes, has reinforced the Republicans’ economic message: “Debt is everything.” It has demonstrated that the tea party has succeeded, as she puts it, in changing the “arena.”…
To channel my inner Betty Friedan: Isn’t it just like a man to blithely assume that, however careless your behavior, some woman will come along to clean up after you?
I bet Pelosi wishes that she’d brought his oversized ceremonial gavel down on Orange John’s… hand. With force. And brio.