A job she’s thrived in before

A JOB SHE’S THRIVED IN BEFORE…. Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised some eyebrows on Friday afternoon, announcing that she will seek the House Minority Leader post in the next Congress. Blue Dogs, not surprisingly, aren’t happy with the idea.

Oddly enough, the usually-sharp editorial page of the New York Times seems to think the center-right Democrats have a point. After lauding Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker, the NYT argues she has the wrong skill set for this other job.

Ms. Pelosi announced on Friday that she would seek the post of House minority leader. That job is not a good match for her abilities in maneuvering legislation and trading votes, since Democrats will no longer be passing bills in the House. What they need is what Ms. Pelosi has been unable to provide: a clear and convincing voice to help Americans understand that Democratic policies are not bankrupting the country, advancing socialism or destroying freedom.

If Ms. Pelosi had been a more persuasive communicator, she could have batted away the ludicrous caricature of her painted by Republicans across the country as some kind of fur-hatted commissar jamming her diktats down the public’s throat. Both Ms. Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, are inside players who seem to visibly shrink on camera when defending their policies, rarely connecting with the skeptical independent voters who raged so loudly on Tuesday.

I happen to think Pelosi would make a fine Minority Leader, but I’m willing to concede her detractors’ argument isn’t ridiculous. For one thing, in the wake of drastic losses, it’s not unusual to expect a leadership shake-up. For another, the Times is right that Pelosi is a better legislator than communicator.

But there’s one detail the editorial neglected to mention: Pelosi has already been House Minority Leader, and she proved herself pretty good at it. In fact, she was Minority Leader in 2006 — the cycle Democrats took back the House majority.

If the post isn’t “a good match for her abilities,” why did she thrive in the position before?