David Roberts+ Your Authors @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Nov. 15, 2018 1 min read + Your Authors

1. OK, got tons of real work to do, but just a quick thought on all this Pelosi stuff. Everything that follows is context, separate from whether you think Pelosi should be Speaker.

One thing I've noticed about ... let's call them casual political enthusiasts ...

2. ... is that whenever a position comes up, whether it's president, head of the DNC, or Speaker of the House, they rally around the person they like most, who is most charismatic & appealing, who gives them good feels & performs well on TV.

3. But these jobs in politics are ... actual jobs, with actual responsibilities & goals, requiring actual knowledge & skills. They're not just all-purpose Titles to Give Good People. It's possible for a person to be great, generally speaking, but not suited to a particular job.

4. It was insane for the right to choose Trump; it would be insane for the left to choose Oprah. The presidency is a real job, not just a platform for speeches! Similarly, the Speakership is a real job. Even moreso than most, it requires v. specific knowledge & skills.

5. So many critiques I read of Pelosi are about whether people like her, or her approval rating, or the things she says. People seem to want the Speaker to be charismatic, say the right things, rally Dems, give good soundbites. But that's not the job!

6. Any Dem can become a leader, rally the troops, give good speeches. The Speaker has access to a very specific set of procedural mechanisms & levers of power. It's about using those mechanisms & levers to support friends, gather votes, and shiv opponents.

7. None of that even needs to be particularly public. It sure as F doesn't matter if voters out in the purple sticks approve of it. And if the person doing it SAYS, all the while, "I love bipartisanship," so what? Words, like anything else, are a tool. Only results matter.

8. Now, whether Pelosi has done the *actual* job of Speaker well is a separate argument. Seems to me a lot of the critiques rest entirely on fanciful counterfactuals, as though she & Obama could have produced magic beans if they'd just tried harder. But whatever.

9. The point of this thread is just: Speaker is a specific job. People need to quit chasing a Beto who makes good speeches for *every damn political opening*. Politics is not a TV show. Not every character has to be compelling. They just need to do their jobs well.

10. Like, Henry Waxman was studiously boring but incredibly effective because he knew how power worked & what levers were available to him. His approval rating in east Kansas had nothing to do with it.

11. Anyway, I'd at least like the debate over Speaker to be focused on the actual job. I'd like to hear why alternatives to Pelosi will be better at thwarting Trump -- which is about 98% of the job the next 2 years -- rather than about their superior rhetoric, tone, or style.

12. I know why all the white-guy conservative Dems want to boot her. She's a liberal! What I'd like to hear from the liberals who want to boot her is, who would do better and in what specific way? At what parts of the *actual job* would Pelosi fail but an alternative succeed?

13. That is all. Now back to transcribing interviews. </fin>

You can follow @drvox.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Since you’re here...

... we’re asking visitors like you to make a contribution to support this independent project. In these uncertain times, access to information is vital. Threader gets 1,000,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Your financial support will help two developers to keep working on this app. Everyone’s contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support Threader by becoming premium or by donating on PayPal. Thank you.