As new polling shows the Democrats with a massive 14-point lead ahead of Republicans on a generic ballot ahead of November’s midterm elections, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi would really prefer it if you do not ask her about whether she’ll regain the speaker’s gavel should her party retake the House in the fall.
“It is the least important question you could ask with all due respect to your list of questions there,” Pelosi told reporter Scott Detrow during an interview for NPR’s Morning Edition.
Given the Democrats’ increasingly optimistic chances and the fact that the speakership is just two heartbeats away from the presidency, and that she is currently facing a not-so-secret insurgency against her leadership from members of her own party...well, it seems like a pretty important question, actually.
“You wake up each day thinking, ‘What can I do to advance what I believe in, to make the future better?’ And then some reporter comes up and asks you: ‘Who are you going to vote for for leader?’” Pelosi continued, adding, “The most important thing is: ‘what does this election mean for the American people?’”
In a strictly performative sense, Pelosi is right: Politicians should, of course, be thinking first and foremost of their constituents and their goals for the coming years. And it’s nice and good to pretend like that’s the high road Democrats have chosen to take. Gotta respect those norms!
But let’s cut the bullshit. The speakership is arguably the second-most powerful political position in Washington, and whoever controls the gavel will have immense power to do things like set the entire legislative agenda for the next two years and, oh, I dunno... decide whether to impeach the President of the United States—a not totally out of the realm of possibilities decision given, y’know, nearly half the country says it’d be a good idea and that the Democrats are reportedly already planning to rain investigative hell upon the Republicans.
Say you don’t want to focus on the race yet, or that you’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But please don’t pretend that it’s not an important question. Come November, it may very well be the most consequential question the Democrats have faced in years.