Matt Stoller on MyDD nailed the problem in a take-down of Pelosi's House Democratic Caucus:
A few weeks ago, Representative Louise Slaughter came out with a report called 'America for Sale' on the cost of Republican corruption. The link is no longer working, and I'll explain why in the next paragraph. The report itself was well done, and actually quantified the cost to taxpayers of what has been so obvious for so long, the looting of America by corrupted elites. The report elicited attacks from Republicans, who smeared Slaughter with charges that writing the report itself was an unethical use of taxpayer funds. Now, Louise Slaughter is a member of the House Rules Committee, so documenting the costs of corruption was completely reasonable. What is truly remarkable is that not one Democratic member stood by her. Not one issued a statement. No one from the progressive caucus - most of whom are in safe seats - came forward public to stand by their colleague. I'm sure there were pats on the back in private, but then, that's kind of the point.
And now, in a final insult, the report was removed from Pelosi's leader web site, apparently because of worries that the Republicans will file ethics charges against Pelosi for hosting it (it supposedly violates House Franking rules, which are incoherent and a huge mess and part of the tyranny of Republican rule in the House). Enough is enough. Whoever made the boneheaded decision in Pelosi's office is just out of touch. Leaders serious about ending corruption do not hang out to dry members who stand up against the looting of the country. Leaders serious about governing and wielding power do not scurry in hiding every time Republicans talk about ethics. They do not try to obey arbitrary incoherent rules that are written by Republicans and broken by the other side at will.
If Democrats win in 2006 (which is quite uncertain), Pelosi does not sound like she can do what is necessary to save this country. She acts like a small-minded summer camp councelor for spoiled Democratic members, and unless we are vigilant and aggressive this mindset is going to carry on over to whatever gains we make in 2006. Right now, there's this half-joke among Congresscritters that members don't speak in caucus meetings without first thanking everyone in the room. Members waste each others' time. Staffers are kept out of the loop, and lie to each other in vicious and pointless turf wars where the only goal is to get better offices. This diseased culture comes from years of being smacked around by Republicans, with little indignities like Republican Committee staffers getting better Blackberries and big indignities like Republicans changing rules whenever it suits them. The way to reverse this culture is to have leaders who do not back down.
There's something to be said for tradional political strategy best embodied by the phrase "giving one's opponent just enough rope to hang themselves." But if this is the strategy that Reid and Pelosi (I'll leave out Dean for the moment) are hoping will carry the party to victory this year then they really are on an extended trip to candyland with a stopover in leprechaun city. As has been demonstrated time and time again; if you give Karl Rove enough rope he'll use it to fashion a giant ropey weapon thing (I'm currently at a loss for metaphors) and beat you over the head with it. Not only have the leadership of the party blown signifigant political opportunities on issues like the Dubai ports deal or the NSA spying scandal but it's becoming clearer and clearer that the administration will move on Iran sometime this year and Pelosi and Reid had better get out in front of that or risk getting steamrolled yet again.
If they're not too busy spinning on the floor going "woo, woo, woo, woo, woo" and poking each other in the eyes, that is.