Pelosi had only herself to blame for this briefest of honeymoons. Just five days after the Democrats' election victory, she shattered party unity Sunday by urging House Democrats to reject her longtime deputy, Steny Hoyer, in favor of antiwar firebrand Jack Murtha, who proceeded to brand House ethics reforms "total crap."
Yesterday, rank-and-file Democrats told Pelosi her endorsement was total crap: They overwhelmingly chose Hoyer to be majority leader.
Hoyer supporter Maxine Waters was holding forth on the impact of Pelosi's letter Sunday endorsing Murtha. "People just said 'I wonder why' and kept on moving and voted for Mr. Hoyer." It's true: Hoyer wound up with about as many votes as he forecast before Pelosi's endorsement of Murtha.
For Pelosi, who led Democrats back to a majority in the House after 12 years, yesterday should have been a coronation for the first woman to be speaker. Instead, her party had plunged into fratricide, and cable news was running nonstop clips of Murtha talking with FBI agents posing as sheiks in the Abscam sting.
Was this a great moment for Democrats, or "total crap"? "The latter," Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider had to admit as she surveyed the melee outside the caucus room.