Pelosi's Kamikazes?

Compared to Nancy Pelosi, former House Majority Leader Tom “The Hammer” DeLay was a pussycat. Speaker Pelosi means to force doubtful Dems to vote for the health care nationalization bill this week or next. But her tactic is anti-historical: she doesn’t remember that in World War Two, Japanese kamikaze pilots were all volunteers.  

Pelosi is ordering her fearful members to vote for the Obama-cum-Pelosi healthcare “reform” bill that has voters up in arms all over the country.  House Blue Dog “moderates” are already caught in a crossfire between their constituents and their leadership.  The Tea Partyers have been heard, and they are watching carefully.

And the twenty-five Democrats whose seats we believe are up for grabs in 2010 — some not in the Blue Dog caucus — may not be willing to be the political equivalent of a suicide bomber just to avoid the anger of the hyperliberal Pelosi.

A little over two weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) convened a meeting with the thirty-five Democratic freshmen to hear their concerns about the massive health care “reform” bill she is determined to pass.  Each of the freshmen was permitted to air his concerns and many mentioned the anger their constituents conveyed in townhall meetings throughout August.

When they’d finished, according to a well-informed House source, Pelosi threw back her chair, stood up and told the Democrat freshman class that they were the biggest bunch of wimps that had ever been elected (I’m paraphrasing here, as this is a family publication) and that “you will all vote for the bill.”

Pelosi — according my source — told these and other Democrats that some of them might lose because of their votes for the Pelosicare bill but that they had better vote for it anyway.  And, she added, she was prepared to lose the House majority in order to win the health care battle because she was convinced that the Democrats would win it back in four or six years.

The kamikaze pilots — “divine wind” in Japanese — were compelled to suicide because of their fervent belief in the bushido quasi-religious code that (like radical Islam) promised entry to heaven to those who martyred themselves in killing their enemy.  But Pelosi isn’t Emperor Hirohito: the Democrats she leads — especially the so-called moderates who are fearful of the tides of 2010 — aren’t compelled by a commitment to hyperliberalism and may not want to fly the suicide mission she’s chosen for them.

They should take a hint from two sources: the fate of pretend-Republican Dede Scozzafava and the ever-more-powerful Tea Partyers.

And they should be watching tomorrow’s Virginia gubernatorial election.  GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has run a brilliant campaign against the national Democratic agenda. With McDonnell up about 13 points in the latest polls, his opponent R. Creigh Deeds aired a boneheaded ad last Friday featuring an angry Obama shouting his stump speech on change.  Tomorrow night, Deeds will likely face the cameras at about 11 p.m. to concede the election.

In the House, Scozzafava’s fate will have already sunk in. The pro-abortion, pro gay marriage Scozzafava was chosen by local Republican bosses to run for John McHugh’s empty seat (McHugh having been picked for Army Secretary by President Obama).  New York’s 23rd congressional district was moderate but pretty solidly Republican.  But her nomination galvanized conservatives nationwide, bringing most of the powerful conservatives in to support her third-party challenger, the hitherto unknown Doug Hoffman.  With them came an outpouring of campaign money and — as of last weekend — dozens (hundreds?) of Tea Partyers coming to the district to campaign for Hoffman door-to-door.

Scozzafava, to her credit, dropped out of the race. Tomorrow, Hoffman will probably be elected.  Those who ignore the lessons of NY-23 and Virginia — moderate Dems and establishment Republicans alike — will suffer greatly in 2010.

House Republicans believe that some 46 House Democratic seats are within reach of a Republican takeover next year.  That’s a bit optimistic.  There are 52 “Blue Dogs” who still pretend to moderation and independence from Speaker Pelosi.  

Our own John Gizzi picks the following 25 as the House seats Republicans can pick up next year: in Alabama, Bobby Bright and Parker Griffith; in Arizona, Ann Kirkpatrick and Harry Mitchell; Connecticut Jim Himes; in Florida Alan Grayson and Ron Klein;  in Georgia, Jim Marshall; in Idaho, Walt Minnick; in Illinois, Debbie Halvorsen; in Louisiana, Charlie Melancon (running for Senate); in Maryland, Frank Kratovil; in Michigan, Mark Schauer; in Missouri, Ike Skelton; in Mississippi, Travis Childers; in New Mexico, Harry Teague; in New York, Tim Bishop and Scott Murphy; in North Carolina, Larry Kissell; in North Dakota, Earl Pomeroy; in Ohio, Mary Jo Kilroy; in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak (running for Senate); in South Dakota, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin; in Virginia,  Tom Perriello; and in Wisconsin, Ron Kind.  

How many of them — and the rest of the Blue Dogs — are willing to commit political suicide by voting, as Pelosi demands, for her health care bill?  We’ll soon know.

As I wrote last week, the Tea Party movement is something we haven’t seen for seventeen years. They are “kitchen table issue” voters who aren’t — in most years — politically active.  They are angry at the Obama administration and Congress, neither of which they believe represent them.  They are distrustful, and mean to effect real change in 2010.  They are not the Republican base: but they are an enormous group that can be persuaded to vote Republican in 2010 if the Republican Party is uncharacteristically smart enough to reach out to them.

And what of the Tea Partyers?  To you, dear ladies and gentlemen, I direct a modest suggestion. What you helped do in NY-23 should now be repeated — and magnified tenfold — in Florida.  Do you want Gov. Charlie Crist to be the Republican nominee for Senate in 2010?  Neither do I.  Marco Rubio is a conservative.  Crist isn’t.

Don’t wait for the Republican establishment to reach out to you.  They probably won’t.  But, then again, you’re smarter than they are.  You want your Republican Party back, and you’re willing to fight for it.  So am I.

Cartoon by Brett Noel.