Given: Nancy Pelosi needs to be replaced as House Democratic Leader. In any Parliamentary democracy she would have been replaced within days of the 2010 electoral catastrophe she oversaw. The premise for keeping her– especially inside her own circle of supporters– has always been that Hoyer, a creature of K Street, is far worse. And he is. Pelosi will be 77 in March. Three months later Hoyer will turn 78. And the #3 ranking Democratic Leader, Jim Clyburn, turns 77 the month after that. I guess they could save money and have a joint birthday party– and then all announce they much-overdue retirements.
Replacing Pelosi shouldn't mean replacing her with someone worse and less capable than she is, a description that could easily be assigned to either Hoyer or Clyburn. Or, I'm afraid, Tim Ryan, the one Democrat with the courage and temerity to have stepped up so far to formally challenge her.
I don't hate Ryan– not Tim Ryan. We've been covering him since he left the Ohio state Senate in 2002 to run for a northeast Ohio congressional seat when his boss, corrupt conservaDem Joim Traficant was forced to resign in disgrace. Ryan is not corrupt and he's not a right-winger, although he ran with the NRA's endorsement and has been very supportive of their bloodthirsty agenda. He's also not a progressive and not someone who has shown, at least 'til now, any leadership skills. I've been talking with his staff for over a decade about his “impending” announcement that he was finally switching from being an anti-Choice throwback to supporting women's rights to make up their own minds on their health issues. He was always just about to do it– and they didn't. I hear now that he actually has officially become pro-Choice. I wouldn't want to count on him if I was a gal in need of someone to fend off the other Ryan… and Pence.
As for Ryan and guns, I recall him being out on the hustings with Hillary when she was attacking Bernie as a gun nut. I found it odd, in as much as Bernie never was and the Clinton surrogate by her side certainly is. Ryan, I wrote at the time, has a good record on trade and some other economic issues. There are some issues though, where he and Hillary haven't been in sync. She would love the primary to be about how much better she is than Bernie on gun safety. Her score from the NRA is an admirable F. Bernie is an admirable D-minus. Ryan is no where near as good on guns as Hillary– or Bernie. He got an A from the Buckeye Firearms Association and, although he's been better lately, as recently as 2009 the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave Ryan (Tim, not Paul) a ZERO score. The NRA has given him an A and the last rating I could find from them for him was an 83% in 2012.”
A much-read article about Ryan in New York Magazine by Marin Cogin last year, The Congressman on a Quest to Make America More Zen, showed him in a very different light than a gun-worshipping anti-Choicer. She seems impressed that he's been in Congress “penning books on the power of meditation and what he calls 'the real food revolution,' advocating for yoga, meditation, and unplugging from the internet as a salve to the stresses of modern existence… He’s introduced bills to add holistic and alternative-medicine programs for the treatment of veterans, to teach schoolchildren social and emotional skills through better self-awareness, to fund 'integrated nutrition curricula' in medical schools– and that’s just in the last Congress. In 2009, he secured funding for a program that teaches mindfulness at schools in his district; students there instruct each other to take deep breaths when they’re upset, or visit the peace corner to take a break from classroom stress. He’s also trying to introduce his quiet revolution to Capitol Hill, organizing a weekly staff meditation session when Congress is in town, which he estimates is usually attended by 20 to 40 staffers, and a members-only session in the House chapel, which is less well attended.”
Were he to become Democratic Leader, probably more people would attend. He's so committed to a higher lifestyle that he once unsuccessfully hit on attractive spiritual guru Marianne Williamson and has a reputation, though married with 3 kids, as a serial womanizer, something Pelosi supporters are “quietly” buzzing about now. He was also arrested drunk outside of some Joe Crowley event in Virginia. It takes a lot of yang to balance all the alcoholic yin.
His first public supporter couldn't be a worse omen of what faction of Democrats are backing him– corrupt Wall Street hack Kathleen Rice, a pretty vile conservative New Dem from Nassau County on Long Island. Both Ryan and Rice have voting records graded “F” by ProgressivePunch, though her F (a 62.0 crucial vote score) is much worse than his F (78.06).
So, yeah, the House Democrats should get new leadership– not just by getting rid of Pelosi but Hoyer and Clyburn as well– AND they should be upgading not downgrading. Smarter, better leaders than Pelosi or Tim Ryan? Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Mark Pocan, Raul Grijalva… and if that's all too outsidery, they can try Xavier Becerra, the chairman of the House Democratic caucus and the 4th highest ranking member of the current leadership, a charismatic speaker and even a bit of a progressive.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis