Pelosi's first DCCC chairman was Rahm Emanuel, certainly not someone with any seniority, just someone viewed as a tough guy. Ram's guiding philosophy– that the House Democrats needed fewer progressives interested in policy and more Republican-lite corporate types happy to sit back and leave policy to the leadership– appeared successful and it is the guiding philosophy to this day. But it was a huge long-term loser. Pelosi crowned him DCCC chair in 2005 and when the 2006 midterms came around, a midterm following the election of an increasingly unpopular George W. Bush, the Democrats picked up a net of 31 seats. Rahm– with Pelosi smiling benignly– took the credit, even though he fought tooth-and-nail to defeat several of the winners (among the only ones currently serving in Congress a decade later. Fact of the matter is, Rahm's recruits were almost all defeated in subsequent election. That's because it took rank-and-file Democrats to figure out that Rahm's recruits weren't actually Democrats and had nothing to offer them. When they did, they stopped voting for them and the disappeared from Congress.
Rahm was able to use the Mark Foley page scandal not just to replace Foley with a conservative Republican who switched parties and joined the Blue Dogs (only to be ignominiously defeated 2 years later), but he used the scandal (and coverup, which, ironically and for his own partisan reasons, he was personally part of) to help stimulate a tsunami of anger at Republicans on general.
The only members of the Class of 2006 who will still be serving in the House in January are Jerry McNerney (CA), who Rahm viciously opposed, Carol Shea-Porter (NH), also opposed by Rahm, Ed Perlmutter (CO), Joe Courtney (CT), Dave Loebsack (IA), John Yarmuth (KY), also opposed by Rahm, Tim Walz (MN) plus Keith Ellison, Yvette Clarke, Kathy Castor, John Sarbanes, Albio Sires, Steve Cohen and Peter Welch (who took open Democratic seats when, respectvely, Martin Sabo retired, Major Owens retired, Jim Davis ran for governor of Florida, Ben Cardin took a Maryland Senate seat, Bob Menendez took a New Jersey Senate seat, Harold Ford tried and failed to win a Tennessee Senate seat and Bernie became a Vermont senator). Rahm and the DCCC had nothing to do with any of those races. Oh– and Hank Johnson, who defeated Georgia Democrat Cynthia McKinney in a primary.
In 2008 with Chris Van Hollen superficially running the DCCC but with Rahm still calling the shots– and his operating philosophy firmly in place– Obama;s coattails helped net another 21 Democratic members. The only freshmen who will still be in Congress in January is Wall Street whore Jim Himes (CT), Dina Titus (NV) and Gerry Connolly (VA) plus– unrelated to the DCCC– Chellie Pingree, who took Tom Allen's seat when he ran (unsuccessfully) for the Senate, Paul Tonko who took Mike McNulty's blue seat when he retired, Marcia Fudge who replaced Stepahnie Tubbs Jones when she suddenly died, and Kurt Schrader, who took Democrat Darlene Hooley's seat when she retired.
In 2010, all Rahm's chicken's came home to roost– and then some. The Democrats lost a net of 63 seats and ceded the Speakership to Boehner. Almost all Rahm's Blue Dogs and New Dems were wiped out in one day, a bunch of shitty candidates who should never have been in Congress as Democrats to begin with, garbage like Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ), Harry Mitchell (Blue Dog-AZ), John Salazar (Blue Dog-CO), Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID), Melissa Bean (New Dem-IL), Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Mike McMahon (Blue Dog-NY), Dan Maffei (New Dem-NY), Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH), Chris Carney (Blue Dog-PA)… I think you get the picture.
After the debacle Pelosi should have fired Van Hollen and retired from leadership herself. But deciding she was the indispensable personality, she kicked Van Hollen upstairs and put him on the Speaker track and found someone even orse– and far stupider and more venal than Van Hollen, the odious Steve Israel. Israel should have been able to win back the House– or make signficant gains in that direction– because of Obama's reelection. But he failed– because failing is the only thing he can always be counted on to do. He put Rahm's philosophy into overdrive and recruited the ugliest array of Blue Dogs and New Dems ever, including right-wing monstrosities like Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Ami Bera (CA), Patrick Murphy (FL), Brad Schneider (IL), Cheri Bustos (IL), John Delaney (MD), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), Filemon Vega (TX), Pete Gallego (TX) Derek Kilmer (WA) and Denny Heck (WA).
Always one to reward failure, she kept Israel on for the 2014 midterms, in which he lost a net of 13 seats and then had him give a worthless Ben Ray Lujan on-the-job-training this cycle where he failed all expectations except one– that Pelsoi would again reward cluelessness and abysmal failure. So unless Pelosi is beaten Wednesday, the DCCC will once again be led by a guaranteed loser.
The sad part is that the person challenging her, Tim Ryan is worse than she is and would likely keep Lujan on or appoint someone even even worse. Ryan, already feeling freed of his status as a terminal backbencher/pipsqueak, was all over the talking heads shows this weekend and feeling his oats enough to publicly counsel Hillary to not challenge Trump with a recount. On Meet The Press he said she could do whatever she wanted but that “Im moving on myself.” On Fox News Sunday, understandably happy to bolster someone so incompetent and flawed, his line was how the House Democrats need “a new message and a new messenger.” Everyone is too polite– or conflicted– to say “but not a worse one than we already have.”
Referring to about 80% of the congressional delegation, he said “I think even our members from the coastal areas recognize that we are not a national party right now. They understand politics, and I think they understand that this is about having a new message and a new messenger.” Without ever calling her and Hoyer and Clyburn “sclerotic” or “geriatric,” that's his appeal and a lot of the younger members are buying a decidedly simpleminded approach. Wednesday– day after tomorrow– is D-Day. I can't imagine Pelosi could lose it a philandering nothing like Ryan but… look who the president-elect is.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis