U.S. House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has — once again — showed why she's a consummate manager of her party's caucus.
After lengthy negotiations with party dissidents, Pelosi secured their support for her election as speaker next month by agreeing to limit herself to serving a maximum of two terms (four years).
As a consequence, Pelosi gets what she wants — a powerful and important post — while Pelosi opponents get what they want — a foreseeable end to Pelosi's tenure and an opportunity for a younger generation of Democrats to move up the power ladder.
Democrats won control of the House from Republicans in the Nov. 6 election. But the majority that will take office in early January wasn't solidly behind Pelosi's bid to return to the speaker's post.
Last month, she won majority support from the caucus. But her numbers were considerably short of unanimous.
To be elected speaker, Pelosi needs 218 votes, and she fell short of that total by about 20 votes.
Since then, she's been making deals with various dissenters to get their backing.
Last week, she wrapped up the matter by accepting what she had refused to accept heretofore — a limit on her tenure.
The limit is four terms — eight years. But it's retroactive, and Pelosi already has served two terms — four years. That means she has two more terms to go before being required to step down.
The proposal still has to be approved by the full Democratic caucus, and that's no sure thing. But Pelosi has said she will abide to the term limit agreement "whether it passes or not." ''
"I am comfortable with the proposal," she said.
Not all top-ranking Democrats are.
Pelosi is 78, and two other members of her leadership team — U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn — are 79 and 78, respectively.
That's way too old for the younger turks who are tired of the party's super-senior citizens blocking their way up the ladder.
But the seniors aren't tired of leading, as Hoyer indicated when he said he wants nothing to do with the agreement Pelosi negotiated.
"She's not negotiating for me," said Hoyer, who obviously has ambitions to succeed Pelosi.
Whether she is or is not doesn't matter at this point.
Hoyer can wage his fight for power when the time comes.
Meanwhile, Pelosi has secured a return to the speaker's post, something that won't bother Republicans at all. They use her as the face of the Democratic Party, a tactic that works sometimes and doesn't work others.
Among the leaders of the anti-Pelosi rebellion was Illinois Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster.
Immediately after Pelosi announced the agreement, Foster and the other dissenting Democrats issued a statement pledging their votes to her for speaker.
The group stated that "our agreement will make lasting institutional change that will strengthen our caucus and will develop the next generation of Democratic leaders."
That may be. But the arrival of the new generation — whenever that is — will be too soon for the older generation that holds — and wants to continue to hold — power for as long as possible.
— The (Champaign) News-Gazette