Several years ago, upon being inaugurated as mayor of San Francisco, California uber-pol Willie Brown exulted, "The weather here is fine; there’s no snow and no Republicans." In the broader context of the highly-gerrymandered Golden State, Brown's single-party electorate was far from an aberration. Most of California's congressional districts are drawn to ensure an easy victory for the incumbent party, in most cases the Democratic Party.
That insulation from opposition, like any artificial monopoly on power, has incubated a considerable amount of both arrogance and ignorance among the California congressional delegation--a delegation that exercises de facto control over the House of Representatives today. From National Journal today:
[F]urther complicating her efforts, say several House members, is a rising animosity within the Caucus toward a perceived lack of sympathy from Pelosi and other House members from relatively safe districts in California -- and who hold so many key chairmanships and others leadership posts -- to the election fears of their colleagues from other states.
"Across the Caucus, there is growing dissatisfaction and resentment -- not so much directed at Pelosi --- but with her cadre of California liberals seen as continually driving her House agenda, regardless of the hits the rest of us will have to take," said one House Democrat.
The Californians cited most frequently -- and angrily -- are Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman and Education and Labor Chairman George Miller, both with key roles in healthcare legislation. But also mentioned are Ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Anna Eshoo, Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman, and Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra.
"She seems to only be listening to this small cadre, and the rank and file are expected to simply fall in line," complained a senior Democrat; he said this is contributing to Caucus animosity over the prospect of being asked once again to walk the plank on a healthcare bill, after already passing a bill last year, on top of climate legislation establishing a cap-and-trade emissions program.
This California-related blowback was one of the reasons -- though certainly not the only one -- for the mini-uprising and backlash over Rep. Pete Stark's presumed ascension to the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, following Rangel's announcement he was temporarily stepping down, says one member.
Governing from the hard left was always a losing proposition in a country where barely a fifth of voters describe themselves as "liberal," but clearly La Nancy and her Left Coast coterie weren't sharp enough to figure that out.
They're learning now--and the lessons will continue for at least the next nine months.