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Hire Hoyer

By Ruth Marcus

The Republican National Committee has changed the sign hanging outside its entrance from "Fire Pelosi" to "Hire Pelosi," which says something about whether its a smart move for House Democrats to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader. Here's the sign I think should be hanging outside Democratic headquarters: "Hire Hoyer." Steny Hoyer, the current majority leader, is at risk of losing out in the game of musical chairs that's about to begin in the House Democratic caucus. With Pelosi going for -- and almost certainly getting -- the minority leader post, that leaves Hoyer battling for the minority whip position with James Clyburn of South Carolina, the incumbent majority whip. There is a procedural argument in Hoyer's favor here -- everyone should just move down a notch, which would put Clyburn as conference chair, supplanting Connecticut's John Larson. But the stronger argument for hiring Hoyer, I think, is self-interest on the part of House Democrats: if they have any hope of rebuilding their brand and reclaiming the majority, they need a centrist figure such as Hoyer -- especially with Pelosi, make that "San Francisco Democrat Pelosi," as the chief face of House Democrats.

This assessment is not a knock on Clyburn. But over the last two years, the pragmatic Hoyer has repeatedly proven himself a voice of reason within a sometimes unreasonable caucus. When Pelosi said the House would not pass a health-care bill without a public option, Hoyer said that provision might have to go, saying, "I'm for a public option, but I'm also for passing a bill." You know what happened next. Hoyer has dared to suggest that raising the Social Security retirement age should be on the table. He has dared -- perhaps even more bravely -- to suggest that the country cannot afford to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts, even for those earning less than $250,000 a year. When Stephen Colbert moved his parody to a House subcommittee, Hoyer had the good sense to call the testimony an "embarrassment."

Perhaps these positions don't make Hoyer the most popular guy among the surviving, mostly liberal, members of his caucus. If they believe they can claw their way back to the majority hewing strictly to the liberal line, maybe Hoyer's not the right choice for whip. If they're happy being purists in the minority, fine. If they hope for a comeback, they'd benefit from keeping Hoyer in the leadership.

By Ruth Marcus  | November 8, 2010; 10:26 AM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Comments

When I see this sort of thing I begin to think I can work with common sense liberal Democrats like Ruth Marcus. As a conservative, however, I admit I hope ideologues like Pelosi continue to run the party.

Posted by: Roytex | November 8, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hoyer is just another hack like Mikulski, Cardin and Nancy Pelosi's boot licker Van Hollen.

Posted by: Pilot1 | November 8, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Let Pelosi continue as the face and voice of the House Democrats. 2012 will be a good year for Republicans.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | November 8, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I never thought I would hear you saying that republican lite was the way to go. Sorry, your attitude is a no go. I am done allowing democrats to capitulate to republicans! Obama is already rolling over. Its disgusting! Having an open mind is one thing. Giving up on your principals is another.

Posted by: sandnsmith | November 8, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe that Steny Hoyer has ever given up on his principles. He is an effective leader and the Democrats would do well to keep him in a leadership role.

Posted by: peterdc | November 8, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Good take on the situation. One other thing is that a return of Minority Leader Pelosi could be a major political mistake given her tenure as Speaker. - http://goo.gl/fb/cTNQq

Posted by: DJOURNO | November 8, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Sandnsmith, does this sound "republican lite" to you?
* Author of the ADA and ADA Amendments Act
* Sponsor of the Full-Service Community Schools Act
* Lead Democrat on the Help America Vote Act
* Led the fight to pass health care reform in the 111th Congress
* Champion of international human and civil rights issues from his days on the Helsinki Commission to the present
* 87% lifetime rating with the ACLU
* 86% with the LCV in the 111th Congress
* 100% with Planned Parenthood
* 7.5% lifetime rating with the American Conservative Union

Just because Hoyer is a person who believes in working with others, including centrist Democrats, it doesn't make him "republican lite." It makes him a person capable of working with members across the spectrum to come up with solutions instead of feeding into the acrimony which makes Congress unpopular.

Ruth is absolutely right. At this moment, the Dems need to retain their consistently pragmatic voice within the caucus in order for the party to get to 218 again.

Posted by: ars406 | November 8, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

If the House Democrats had any sense, they'd elect Hoyer as Minority leaders, keep Clyburn as Whip and move Pelosi to DCCC. She's a good "get out the vote and get the money" person but for a party in the minority, she's not good at making things work -- she's a dictate from above manager.

Clyburn can keep the party in line and keep the liberals happy while Hoyer can work with the President to formulate policy and how to work with the Republicans.

But since i don't see any sense coming from the House in years (from either party), this won't happen.

Posted by: MadiganT | November 8, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Steny Hoyer is the primary bridge builder in the Dem caucus and he has immense credibility in crucial swing districts. Throughout Hoyer's tenure he has earned the trust and respect of his colleagues. Democrats cannot afford to lose Hoyer’s voice in leadership if we wish to regain the majority in 2012.

Posted by: J4Hope | November 8, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. As much as I respect Steny Hoyer, I don't think the mere fact that the Republicans are calling for Pelosi's head on a silver platter is a reason for the Democrats to panic and give it to them.

The Democrats should decide who the next Minority Leader will be based on their assessment of what's best for the party, not based on an emotional reaction to Republican goading.

With that in mind, those who consider Steny Hoyer to be a voice of reason in the party may want to give some thought to the fact that Hoyer isn't among those calling for Pelosi to go.

Posted by: exco | November 8, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Are the Democrats going to bully another black Democrat to step aside for a white Democrat again. How is it the CBC stands silent while Clyburn is battling for minority whip. When is Bill Clinton going to show up to convince Clyburn to throw in the towel so Hoyer can be minority whip.

Posted by: houstonian | November 8, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

This isn't about Pelosi's megalomania or Hoyer's more moderate approach. It IS about getting something done. All you liberals loved to call Republicans the party of NO. With the wicked witch of the west in charge of the minority, we'll see which party becomes the party of NO now. Hypocricy thy name will become Democrat.

Posted by: ddnfla | November 8, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I think the The Democrats can elect the ghost of Gerald Ford to be minority leader and it won't matter to this Republcan crew. I really do believe that the far right will resist any reasonable compromise with this President. They will continue to do what they do best with their media/internet blogs and ID any reasonable Dem as a leftist liberal, not in touch with the "American people" all the way to the 2012 elections.
Nancy Pelosi gives them more an excuse to go there but to think that they won't go there with Hoyer is based on what? And I like Hoyer too and think he would make a good leader but I dont' trust the Republicans.
They want to re-run the 2008 election with a hard core right winger in 2012. McCain wasn't and that's why they believe they lost. The assumption that Hoyer is a better fit, in my opinion, is based on the assumption that Boehner(sp) can keep this crew in line.

Posted by: chris_r | November 8, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. As much as I respect Steny Hoyer, I don't think the mere fact that the Republicans are calling for Pelosi's head on a silver platter is a reason for the Democrats to panic and give it to them.

The Democrats should decide who the next Minority Leader will be based on their assessment of what's best for the party, not based on an emotional reaction to Republican goading.

With that in mind, those who consider Steny Hoyer to be a voice of reason in the party may want to give some thought to the fact that Hoyer isn't among those calling for Pelosi to go.

Democrats should also keep the following in mind: With an endless supply of cash available from organizations like Crossroads, the Republicans aren't going to stop spending on negative advertising just because the mid-term elections are over. Republicans will use Pelosi as a lightening rod during the next session whether she remains in a position of leadership or not. If she remains, the spin will be that Democrats are tone deaf; if she leaves, it will be that by failing to re-elect Pelosi, Democrats admitted that the legislation that Republicans want to undo next session is flawed.

In other words, Democrats have absolutely nothing to gain by factoring "What will Republicans think? into the selection of the next minority leader.

Given this, there is no reason to

Posted by: exco | November 8, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid should step aside too. Dick Durbin would be much more effective and much less polarizing as leader of the Senate.

Posted by: wheishman | November 8, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Ms Marcus is so far behind times, it isn't funny. All of the top Democrats will have a "place at the table" as Chris van Hollen said Sunday. Even No.3 Clyburn (the Black guy) will continue in a leadership role. The Democrats can't afford to alienate Blacks.

Posted by: Paaa | November 8, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Not much difference between Pelosi and Hoyer. Both are career politicians. Both are in the pockets of big labor and public sector unions. Both are tired liberals. Neither ever met a big government spending program they didn't like. At least Hoyer does not have the complete polarizing effect Pelosi has on the political scene. The Democrats have issues to resolve within their Party. Some fresh faces would be nice. And maybe some that are moderate. After the outcome of the mid term elections it is obvious that the Democrats have not discovered that the voters are tired of the left.

Posted by: bobbo2 | November 8, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Not much difference between Pelosi and Hoyer. Both are career politicians. Both are in the pockets of big labor and public sector unions. Both are tired liberals. Neither ever met a big government spending program they didn't like. At least Hoyer does not have the complete polarizing effect Pelosi has on the political scene. The Democrats have issues to resolve within their Party. Some fresh faces would be nice. And maybe some that are moderate. After the outcome of the mid term elections it is obvious that the Democrats have not discovered that the voters are tired of the left.

Posted by: bobbo2 | November 8, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse


Marcus? Pulling for Hoyer? WHY? He isn't Jewish is he?

And is she jealous of Nancy Pelosi or something? Marcus writes with no coherence nor cohesion. Tacky tidbits at best.

Posted by: whistling | November 8, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

If Steny Hoyer has suggested raising the retirement age for Social Security, then he is completely out of touch - apparently never having worked in business or industry. There are many people who want to keep on working or really need to keep earning money. The reality is that American companies do not want older workers to hang around and 58 is old in the eyes of American business leaders.
They prefer to lay off older workers and hire young ones - even if the don't know anything. If the new retirement age becomes 70, what is person to do from 58 to 70- starve?

Posted by: brenza1 | November 8, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse


What was that children's tale...was it Briar Rabbit who kept screaming

Please don't throw me in the briar patch? Which was Exactly where he wanted and needed to go.

The silly obvious tea party types are scared to death of Pelosi...whom everyone who knows knows has been the most effective speaker in several decades.
SHE GOT THINGS DONE.
and she'll not be run over by the silly children elected. She'll be tough as he ll.

And by the way, don't you look forward watching the truly idiotic Michelle Bauchman try to match the sophisticated accomplished Pelosi?


the 4th Republican spot.

Posted by: whistling | November 8, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse


The NYTimes did a little article against Pelosi and so did the Post's lap dog Marcus.

Pelosi, (about whom no one says anything but that she was a splendid and very very effective leader, one of the best in decades) must not have given AIPAC everything it wanted. Perhaps put America first in some incident.

Shouldn't Marcus have talked about Netanyahuu sneaking into the US like the little sneak he is...and began bawling for military action threats against Iran?
That's her speed.

Posted by: whistling | November 8, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Ruth Marcus' columns have been getting sillier by the day. Now she wants the Republican Party to decide who should be in the leadership of the Democratic Party.

In case she hasn't noticed, the far right wing and its propaganda arm Fox News will demonize anyone who leads the democratic party. Remember how Kerry was the "most liberal senator" in the Democratic Party and far outside the mainstream after he won the 2004 nomination? And then Obama was the "most liberal" after he won the primaries? Pelosi may be from San Francisco, but it's not like Tom Daschle from South Dakota was treated kindly by the right wing nutjobs.

My message to the Democratic Party - go with whoever will work hardest, set the agenda, and inspire confidence in your caucus - and ignore what the other party and know-nothing pundits like Ruth Marcus are saying.

Posted by: sambam | November 8, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

The ABSOLUTE smartest thing the Democrats could do would be to elect Steny as Minority Leader. However, that would involve using good political common sense and a return to Clinton triangulation.

The liberal wingnuts and wackjobs are going to push Hoyer, Shuler and the rest of the Blue Dogs that the party needs if it is ever going to become a majority again, much less re-elect a President.

The Democratic Party is rapidly becoming the party of minorities rather than middle America, be it: the NEA, blacks, gays, trial attorneys, Big Labor etc. It doesn't have a place for either the middle class or Middle America.

It is logarithmically leaving behind the middle class, white, religious non-college educated voters that have always made up its traditional base.

Posted by: tcmits | November 8, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Ms Marcus understands that the Democrats are setting themselves up for oblivion in 2012.

I hope they don't read her column.

Posted by: theduke89 | November 8, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Marcus, you need to move on from your disgust about Colbert's committee appearance. It's OK not to get the joke. That happens with jokes. Colbert was both very funny and brought attention to a serious human rights problem (overweight Americans griping about poor people who process our food and work in deplorable conditions). What is now tedious is you continuing to tell us the joke was not funny. Many thought it was. That Hoyer missed the joke too is not a reason to keep him in leadership when his base was just voted out. I don't know the best path for liberals, but compromising with McConnell and Boehner is impossible according to them!

Posted by: gregBendOr | November 8, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

So, there are no Black Democrats in the House worthy of a Leadership Position?

Why is liberalism so lily white....

....nothing but an narrative filling Black face for the front Office of lily white liberal democrat socialism.....and the Hope Black voters don't Change Party affiliation when democrats forget about them until the next election.

Posted by: georgedixon1 | November 8, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms Marcus, please read EJ's What Really Happened in the 2010 Election. How many times have we imagined how the republicans would cooperate if only Obama would ________, or if only the dems would __________ .

Obama has broken my heart & many others by reaching out again & again. What's been the result : watered down legislation, a demoralized base, & a reputation for being soft. Ms Pelosi is smart, tough, & in tune with a large part of the base. Hopefully she will help the President to give voice to his inner democrat!

Posted by: mathteacher | November 8, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

I see Steny Hoyer and I see a used car salesman, with apologies to the profession for an unfortunate association.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | November 9, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I AM VOTING FOR PALIN AND SNOOKIE IN 2012

Posted by: betheloveyouare | November 9, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

to all,

WHY would the DIMocRATS be STUPID ENOUGH to allow anyone who was/is "on Pelosi's team" and/or who voted "YES" on "obamacare" to "lead" anything in the new Congress? = that is a true prescription for FAILURE at the polls in 2012.

otoh, as a committed TEA PARTIER, i hope that the DIMs are that DUMB, so that we can "wipe the floor with" them on every election day to come. so, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE elect hoyer or princess pelosi (or anyone else of that extremist ilk) & help the TP candidates win in 2012!

NOTE: IF you are as disgusted with the DIMocRAT extremists, as we TEA PARTIERS are & want REAL CHANGE, please join your local TEA PARTY group & help us return our republic to limited & CONSTITUTIONAL government.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 9, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

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