Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pelosi Survives Tough Press

The San Francisco Chronicle isn't some lapdog that's going to cheer Nancy Pelosi no matter what she does. She had to really earn this headline:

Pelosi proud of Dems' work in first 100 days
Speaker given high marks for keeping 233 diverse members of her party in line on tough votes by leading from the center

I don't know that the quotes they provide fully justify the glowing headline:

Outside experts said her boast was only somewhat hyperbolic. Even Republicans conceded that Pelosi, whom they have derided as an out-of-touch San Francisco liberal, has done a good job of keeping the 233 House Democrats together through some tough votes -- although few of their bills have made it through the Senate and onto President Bush's desk.

"Overall, I'd give her high marks," said Julian Zelizer, a scholar of Congress at Boston University. "I think she has surprised the Republicans. And the more she succeeds, the more Democrats will be willing to follow her, and the more she succeeds, she may be able to attract moderate Republicans. Each succes makes her only stronger..."

To UC Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain, Pelosi's record is mixed.

"The first thing you look for is a leader's ability to lead your caucus," he said. Pointing to her quixotic support for Murtha, he said, "I think she started out shaky there but ended on a strong note."

The second dimension of effective leadership, Cain said, is producing results. "In the end, legislators have to produce things. Her first 100 days started out with promise and ended in stalemate," he said...

Pelosi's Republican House rivals, still trying to adjust to life in the minority after 12 years in charge, give her grudging praise.

Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., who chairs the House Republican Conference, said of Pelosi and her team, "I think they've done a pretty good job of keeping their troops in line."

I would agree with Putnam's assessment - and Dennis Hastert did as well, when I asked him yesterday. But the job will get tougher.

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