Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pelosi Avoids Obama. Can Jeopardize her 2012 Reelection Bid

It is every man for himself. With Pelosi, she is scared that 2012 will be her last to retain power.

(The Hill) For House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), disagreement with President Obama often takes the form of silence.

While rank-and-file House Democrats have been outspoken in taking the White House to task over issues as diverse as foreclosure prevention, environmental protection and funding the federal government, Pelosi has stayed quiet or shifted her talking points to attacks on the GOP.

The intention is to stay united with the president, and not let Republicans or other groups take advantage of any divide between the White House and congressional Democrats.

Pelosi’s tactics can be seen clearly in the decision by a broad coalition of California Democrats to urge Obama in writing last week to take bolder steps to prevent home foreclosures, which are endemic in much of the state.

Pelosi broke with Obama last week by voting against a free-trade agreement with Colombia, citing a history of violence against workers in the South American country. Still, the minority leader didn’t criticize the president for backing the deal. Instead, she went after GOP leaders for killing the administration’s efforts to install more worker protections.

Both episodes highlights the delicate political nature of the relationship between Obama — who’s facing a tough reelection next year — and Pelosi, who even when disagreeing with the president wants nothing more than to keep him in the White House an additional four years.

The San Francisco liberal is hardly immune to the frustrations her troops have had with Obama, and she’s felt caucus pressures to take a stand when those frictions emerge. Occasionally, as with the Colombia trade deal, she’s voted against the president.

But more often than not, Pelosi has kept her criticism to herself, or softened it in public.

A source familiar with Pelosi’s thinking said the minority leader is constantly in touch with the White House, but she’s doing it privately — out of the glare of the media.