Sunday, February 1, 2009

One Alternative Future: The Demise of Nancy Pelosi

Back in the days when I worked strategy for the Navy, one of the most interesting aspects of the job was the work we did (often with very skilled consultants) in constructing alternative futures. An alternative future was a scenario that was designed to stress fundamental assumptions made in the strategies under test. In addition to devising stressing scenarios, we'd assess how likely to occur the scenario was. One important aspect of this kind of scenario planning is that when you conceive of these rather widely spaced outcomes, you put a lot of brainpower to work in identifying those signposts along that way that would lead you to believe you were headed in the direction of the scenario.

I've been thinking of a scenario that appeals to me, and that is one in which Nancy Pelosi loses her position as Speaker of the House. I see this as an extremely low probability of occurring outcome, but one that certainly should be considered. Here's how it works.

Senate Republicans succeed in slowing down the stimulus package in the Senate. As time goes on and Americans are more and more exposed the the extent of the Democrat platform objectives masquerading as economic stimulus, the bill will become less and less popular. Barack Obama will have to expend precious political capital on a measure that should have--by all accounts--been a slam dunk. Eventually, a bill passes that is lighter on the policy wishes of Dems, heavier on immediate stimulation and ultimately something very different than was created in the House. Dems will whine and complain that Republicans were to blame for the delay in getting much needed stimulus to the American people, but the President will know...the source of his defeat (and it will be seen as one) was the over-reaching of the Speaker of the House, and her failure to follow his instructions and desires (which for this scenario to pan out, must have genuinely been a desire to work with Republicans--something I am not willing to bet good money on). Rahm Emmanuel already dislikes Nancy Pelosi, and if the President gets to feeling that she is squandering his mandate, we'll see the real "Chicago Way" in action.

Do I see this as a likely outcome? No. I'd give it a less than 5% chance of occurring. The key though is how to make that chance rise...and how to recognize that such an outcome is becoming more possible.

1. Tie the President and the Speaker together on this one. Call it the "Obama-Pelosi" Non-stimulus package at every turn.
2. Keep up the press on exposing at each and every turn how little of this is actually stimulative, and how slowly even the stimulative stuff is actually paid out.
3. Work like hell to keep the Blue Dog Democrats from going back to the other side on this one.
4. Watch for signs of the Speaker's access to the White House. Watch for suggestions from lawmakers close to the President that the Speaker has over-reached or lost her way.

Again...this is not very likely to happen. But it could. And good scenario planners (which I can only assume we have in the Republican Party, right?) should be looking at this outcome and trying to determine how to make it more likely, and at what costs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When Rahm was appointed chief of staff, much of the chatter was that he would play bad cop to Obama's good cop. I think it is entirely possible that Obama and Pelosi are in deeper cahoots with one another than we suspect, she may be acting in perfect concert with his instructions and desires, and she is the bad cop to Obama's good cop. That's my grassy knoll theory of the day, anyway. (And her ego may not permit such a scenario).

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