Pelosi Vulnerable to a Coup?

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Has the controversy surrounding Nancy Pelosi’s statements on torture made the Speaker vulnerable to a coup? John Feehery of Politico thinks so.

Feehery compares Pelosi to Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott, two former leaders in congress whose declining popularity intersected with controversial statements and resulted in political ouster. Pelosi is already a toxic name for Blue Dog Democrats who don’t want to be associated with the liberal Speaker. Worse for Pelosi, the support from her own liberal base is not as strong as it once was, primarily because she’s failed to deliver on such pledges as bringing the Iraq War to an end.

In my mind, the Democrats would be better off without Pelosi in charge. She’s proven unwilling to lead the House in the more inclusive direction President Obama promised and she’s become adept at playing politics as usual, standing behind corrupt representatives like John Murtha and allowing members to bloat any and every bill with excessive earmarks and questionable spending measures. A new Speaker might give Obama the chance to lead more pragmatically and stop having to kowtow to Congress’ lesser instincts just to get bills passed.

The question is, would the White House support a Pelosi ouster? In a way, her presence gives the administration an easy excuse as to why our government has been more politics-as-usual and less new-way-forward since Obama took office. It’s easy for Obama to shrug and claim he can only do as much as Congress will let him, and be content to let the ire of the public fall on Pelosi and her crew. A less divisive, more constructive Speaker might force the White House to take more responsibility for the details of the bills coming out of Congress. Would a moderate like Steny Hoyer be a more forward-looking Speaker or would he just end up removing a valuable buffer for Obama?

This is all conjecture, of course. No one is openly calling for Pelosi’s ouster as of yet. But she is vulnerable. We’ll see what the Democrats end up doing.