Monday night’s debate between John Adler and Jon Runyan had its share of Tea Party folks posing their wedge issues during the question and answer session. One person asked each candidate if he would vote for their current House leader (Nancy Pelosi for Adler, John Boehner for Runyan) as Speaker if their party were in the majority. Luckily for Runyan, the answer was a no-brainer. But I was surprised at John Adler’s response.
Adler is a skilled attorney and politician, and did not give a direct “yes” or “no” answer. Playing into the propaganda propagated by the Tea Party and Fox News, he stated that he felt that Speaker Pelosi was “divisive”, and that troubled him. Where has he been?
The capstone legislation of the 111th Congress is, of course, the Affordable Care Act. The House Republicans were just a dead weight in its passage through the labyrinth of legislation. All GOP members abided by their loyalty oath and publicly stated that they would vote “no” on every one of the president’s initiatives and obstruct this important bill, even though it is essentially the same bill that the Republicans promoted as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s health care initiative in the ‘90s. So, as leader, Speaker Pelosi needed to corral all of the Democrats – Liberals, Centrists, and Blue Dogs – to cobble together a bill that they could collectively support. Pelosi is a masterful politician and got the compromises necessary to pass the bill, despite 34 Democrats (including Adler) voting against it. Her ability to bring this diverse group of Democrats under the “big tent” is by no means divisive – on the contrary it is close to miraculous.
Adler’s pandering to the right wing’s anti-Pelosi (possibly anti-powerful woman) mantra indicates his willingness to swing toward what is required to be re-elected rather than toward what is right and decent. His remarks will encourage other conservative Democrats to mount a challenge to the leadership of one of the most effective Speakers in my lifetime.
Cross-posted from Blue Jersey