This morning I floated the theory that Nancy Pelosi didn’t really want the bailout to pass on the first go-round, when passage of the bill might make John McCain look decisive and effective.
Evidence is trickling in that I was right. The Los Angeles Times (yes, the Los Angeles Times) reports:
GOP leaders who were urging the rank and file to support the bailout plan said they told Democrats in advance that they did not have a lock on their votes but did not ask them to delay the debate. Democrats believed that Republicans were lowballing the count and that the measure would pass.
Others have questioned how committed Pelosi was to passing the bill because, once it became clear that it was failing, she made only limited efforts to change minds. She asked members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a bastion of opposition to the deal, to change their votes — but did not deploy the kind of hardball tactics that leaders often use to win close contests.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said that Pelosi told him: “This is an important bill to the country,” but didn’t try to twist his arm. He acknowledged that Pelosi could be tough, but said that in this case, “she wasn’t.”
What is more, she did not resort to the controversial — but often effective — strategy of extending the time for voting beyond the official 15-minute limit. She kept the vote open a bit longer, but nowhere near the three-hour tally that Republicans held in 2003 to pass a contentious Medicare bill.
A spokesman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer tells the paper that the leadership viewed this as a vote of conscience and not a matter of party discipline. The article adds:
It may be a politically effective strategy if, in the end, the bill changes more to Democrats’ liking. And it may have made it easier for Democrats, in these closing weeks of the 2008 campaign, to argue that Republicans are responsible for the nation’s economic problems.
Said John J. Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College, “Turmoil and uncertainty benefits the Democrats.”
And if it causes a trillion-dollar stock selloff, well, that’s just the consequence of good politics. Besides, the market recovered a lot of that today. So what are you bitching about?
P.S. Maybe Barack Obama could come in and succeed where John McCain failed! Wouldn’t that be something! And the Democrats have it in their power to make it happen.