The First Draft of History.

            Journalism is said to be the “first draft of history.  It’s only the first draft because journalists commonly do what most historians would not.  Historians try to give a full picture of what happened and why.  Their approach is let the evidence talk to them, then build an argument based on as much evidence as possible.  They’re not supposed to leave out important facts that get in the way of an argument they want to make.  Even the best journalists can do this.[1]

            In 2006, House Minority-Leader Nancy Pelosi saw the opportunity to win control of the House of Representatives by steering toward the center.  She lined up a bunch of centrist candidates and defined an agenda focused on material concerns weighing on ordinary Americans.  The result?  The Democrats added 31 seats in the election and Pelosi became Speaker of the House.[2] 

            When Barak Obama won election as President in 2008 he carried additional Democrats on his coat-tails.  Pelosi joined the Senate Democrats and President Obama in passing the Affordable Care Act, legislation on climate-change, and other costly measures desired by the Democratic left.[3] 

            In the 2010 mid-term elections Democrat suffered heavy losses to Republicans.  Pelosi was relegated to House Minority Leader once again.[4] 

            After grinding her teeth in frustration at not banging the gavel for eight years, Pelosi steered her caucus back toward the center.  She recruited moderate candidates like Colin Lamb and Abigail Spanberger, and she talked down the demands for the impeachment of Donald Trump.  Result?  Democrats regained a clear majority in the House of Representatives and Pelosi got her old job back.[5] 

            From 2018 through 2020, the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives indulged in a frenzy of Trump-hunting and leftist legislation that could never pass the Senate or be signed by the White House.[6]  It only passed President Trump’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).[7]  This was one big thing done in cooperation with the Republican-dominated Senate.  Other than that, it’s difficult to think of any significant legislation passed by the Congress in two years.    

Strassel concludes that “America remains a center-right country, and there is great political upside for politicians who govern in a center-right fashion.”  Was this her starting point? 


[1] See Kimberley Strassel, “2020’s Biggest Election Loser’s,” WSJ, 6 November 2020.  NB: I have enormous respect for Strassel based on reading her tenacious “I smell a rat” commentary on the Russia investigation. 

[2] This was an off-year election, when the party in power normally loses seats in the House. 

[3] What this ignores is that Obama had run and won on the issue of universal health-care.  This wasn’t Pelosi’s issue.  Among the costly bills passed were the not-big-enough stimulus bill to pull the country out of the recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, and the bail-out of the auto industry. 

[4] What this ignores is the flight from Keynesian economics on the part of both the Republicans and the Democrats after the financial crisis.  While this spawned the “Tea Party” faction within the Republican Party, it also caused President Obama to do much less on economic recovery that he might have tried to do.  The recovery from the recession dragged on, antagonizing all sorts of people. 

[5] What this ignores is that the Great Recession spawned a Democratic “Tea Party” in the form of Bernie Sanders and “The Squad.”  Pelosi found herself under the same harassment as had John Boehner, her Republican predecessor. 

[6] Endorsing the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, while making a foredoomed effort to impeach the president. 

[7] What this leaves out is that the House and Senate also passed the CARES Act on Covid-related economic stimulus.