As Pelosi is finding out leadership can stink. The base of the democratic party is causing her a nightmare, and threatens to blow up in her face:
The meltdown among House Democrats over Iraq is rightly being described as the first big test of Nancy Pelosi's leadership. It's also an early example of just how much political damage the antiwar left is capable of inflicting on their new speaker.
Ms. Pelosi has been backed into a tight corner over President Bush's $100 billion request for war funding. Hoping to quell a revolt from a liberal bloc that wants out of Iraq, pronto, the speaker unveiled a new, new plan yesterday that includes a timetable for withdrawal--to begin as early as July. Ms. Pelosi needs to win this vote, the first real showdown over Iraq. But it's becoming increasingly clear she can do that only by sacrificing her moderate wing, which opposes her plan and could pay heavily for it in next year's election.
And here is a telling paragraph. When in trouble, bribe.
The message to Ms. Pelosi is that she'll have to cobble together a victory from within her own party. Toward that end, she and appropriations chief David Obey have already turned to good-old-fashioned bribery. There is talk that the $100 billion "war" supplemental will include an extra $20 billion in goodies. At least $4 billion would be emergency agriculture spending aimed at Blue Dog southerners for their struggling farmers back home. A huge dollop would go to children's heath care, Katrina and homeland security. And to provide further coverage against accusations that Democrats don't support the troops, there's billions more for veterans and troop health care. So much for Ms. Pelosi's promise of fiscal discipline.
The joke is that even if Ms. Pelosi can buy the moderate wing to her side, her proposal still might go . . . poof. And why? Her liberal wing, of course. After all the speaker's concessions, antiwar critics were still griping yesterday that the withdrawal proposal left Mr. Bush too much flexibility over the timing. Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Ms. Lee introduced their own amendment to the legislation that would demand a complete withdrawal by year-end. Ms. Pelosi is loath to give them a vote, since the amendment would surely fail and allow Mr. Bush to note that even Congress is against withdrawal. The question is if her liberals will give her any choice. They certainly haven't up to now. Read More.