The first act of congressional Democrats after the November elections—regardless of who wins the presidency—should be to dump House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Failures is too charitable a description of their lifeless tenures. They're embarrassments to the institution and their party.
Pelosi is the worst. She assumed leadership of the House Democratic majority waving the gavel of authority, vigorously vowing to rule as the first U.S. female speaker with the iron hand of a stern grandmother of seven.
Instead, she's been a perpetual no-show, scarce as hen's teeth when President Bush and Vice President Cheney and their acolytes ran roughshod over the Constitution and blew off empty Democratic complaints. Pelosi decided if she played nice with Bush, and promised he need not worry about impeachment, he and the Republican minority would return the favor. Instead, Bush implemented ruthless policies—torture of detainees, illegal wiretaps, corruption of the Justice department—while Pelosi dropped out of sight.
On occasions when she appeared, properly color-coordinated in her splendid wardrobe, Pelosi whined that she was helpless to oppose the Bush-Cheney machine because Democrats lacked a super majority. She repeated meaningless rote—phrases such as "this is unacceptable" or "this cannot stand." The White House snickered and continued trampling over Congress.
Watching her last Sunday on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" was painful proof she's just not up to the speaker's job. Her answers were a tasteless mixture of stumbling, fumbling and pure uncertainty. Her schoolgirl yearbook smile was no help.
Despite GOP obstructionism, a Democratic speaker could've used verve and dogged determination to inspire Democrats and Republicans to honor the public trust and oppose Bush when required and stand courageously tall while fighting losing battles, something that thrills Americans and draws respect.
Reid? Pathetic. He assumed his post without any expectations and lived up to them grandly. Lacking energy, eloquence, conviction and believability, Sen. Reid is an aging hanger-on who was appointed as an honorarium, not for any hopes of dynamic leadership.
Culprits in this debacle are Democratic members of the Senate and House who named them and tolerate their dreary stewardship while the Bush White House makes fools of the Pelosi-Reid majorities.
If McCain wins in November, Pelosi and Reid would be no match for a White House stuffed with brass-knuckled Bush-Cheney holdovers.
And if Obama wins, Pelosi and Reid would hardly be the ones to overcome Republican opposition and push through an Obama agenda.
Replacing most of Congress—now approved by only 14 percent of voters—would also help.