In a stark betrayal of the woman who has been his most important ally in Washington, President Obama today signaled to House Democrats that it’s OK to oppose her bid to be House Minority Leader.
In what was clearly a carefully scripted statement made in answer to a question by ABC’s Jake Tapper at a news conference today in Seoul, South Korea, Obama failed to directly endorse her candidacy.
Q. I’m wondering, when it comes to Congress, if you think your party, the Democratic Party, would benefit from new blood, new leadership?
Obama. I think that what we will naturally see is a whole bunch of talented people rise to the top as they promote good ideas that attract the American people when it comes to jobs and investment and how to grow the economy and how to deal with our challenges. I think Speaker Pelosi has been an outstanding partner for me. I think Harry Reid has been a terrific partner in moving some very difficult legislation forward. And I’m looking forward to working with the entire leadership team to continue to make progress on the issues that are important to the American people.
Understanding messages out of the White House can be a bit like watching the old Soviet Politburo – interpreting the relative power of individuals based on who stands where and so forth.
It may seem at first look that he is praising Pelosi. But if you are asked a question – even an indirect one as Tapper did – about whether the Democratic leader should stay, you don’t talk about other “talented people” rising to the top. You give an answer that is not open to interpretation.
Notice he says he’s looking forward to working “with the entire leadership team.” What does that mean? There will be an “entire leadership team,” with or without Pelosi.
The White House stance on Pelosi has softened as it becomes clear that her decision to try to hang on is not going to be the coronation she thought it would be. At least 15 Democrats have said publicly they don’t want her, and as many as two dozen are saying the same thing privately.
On Friday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton had issued a firmer statement, clearly suggesting that Obama expected to be working with Pelosi as Democratic leader.
The White House does not comment or get involved in leadership elections. But as the president has said before, he appreciates the work of the speaker and the entire House Democratic leadership team who have been great partners in moving the country forward. He looks forward to working with them in the years to come.
Poor Pelosi. She passed all Obama’s major legislation, even though doing so caused her to lose her majority. And now her political carcass is being thrown to the vultures for eager nibbling.
Funny that Obama chose out of “loyalty” to back independent Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee instead of the Democratic nominee, since Chafee, a former Republican, had endorsed Obama for president.
But Pelosi, unlike Chafee, presents Obama with the Pelosi Problem. That is, she’s so divisive and unpopular that Republicans will happily join Obama and Pelosi at the hip in 2012 if she’s still available to kick around.
And so, best of luck Nancy. And thanks for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts for you.