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Seth Moulton's Anti-Pelosi Campaign Just Took A Major Hit

The Democrat leading the charge to replace Nancy Pelosi revealed his ignorance at a town hall meeting last night.
Photograph courtesy of WBUR

Photograph courtesy of WBUR

Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton's plan to oust assumed incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has always resembled what Bob Cesca calls the "Underpants Gnomes Model." This phrase, which comes from a South Park episode where the boys meet the legendary underpants gnomes, refers to the creatures' three-part plan:

Phase One: Collect Underpants!

Phase Two:

Phase Three: Profit!

Just like the underpants gnomes, Moulton's plan to oust Pelosi has no phase two, and the holes in it were revealed last night at a raucous town hall meeting in his constituency of Amesbury, Massachusetts, where pro-Pelosi advocates stormed the halls and shouted him down. 

"This election was a call for change," he told attendees. "The majority of Democrats want this change." The audience below can be heard yelling "No!" "This is what the Republicans were saying that got Trump in," one of them shouted back.

Moulton found himself flailing as protestors fought back. One accused him of sounding like a Tea Party Republican; another said he sounded like Newt Gingrich. "Who fires someone who does something well?" one exasperated old woman said.

The protests were organized by Freedom North Shore, an offshoot of Women's March led by Bambi Snodgrass and Isa Leshko. In a press release last week, they told their supporters:

"We are dismayed to see our congressional representative leading a divisive campaign to undermine Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become Speaker of the House. The American people sent a clear message at the midterm elections that we want women and people of color to lead us...Wwe do not want Seth Moulton’s group comprised mainly of white male centrists to select the next Speaker of the House."

The truth is, although Moulton enlisted fifteen other Democrats (most of them white men) to sign a letter saying they would oppose Pelosi, they have no real plan of action since there is no alternative candidate they've gathered around to replace her. Last night, Moulton suggested African-American Congresswoman Marcia Fudge for the job, but Fudge has two huge strikes against her: she was one of only two Democrats to vote against the Equality Act, an expansion of the Civil Rights Act for protection against gender and sexual orientation discrimination, and her recently discovered 2015 letter of support for Judge Lance Mason following the assault of his wife Aisha. Mason is now the leading suspect for her murder.

Moulton also revealed himself to have scant understanding of how politics actually works. At one point, he attempted to make a historical comparison between his campaign against Pelosi and the end of Margaret Thatcher's tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:

“Someone told me this story recently of Margaret Thatcher…different system of government but same sort of thing where you go on the floor of Parliament to get the votes to be elected Prime Minister. She had served several terms and then a lot of people said…'it’s time for a change,' and she said, ‘no, no, I’m going to stick with it,’ and then they said, ‘well…you don’t have the votes.’ And she said, ‘no, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to go to the floor and drag this out and twist arms and I’ve got to get the vote anyway.’ And so she did that, so she went to the floor and she twisted arms, and she didn’t have the votes. And then they elected a new prime minister and everything went on, more excited about the new Prime Minister. And that’s OK.”

This is highly misleading. Margaret Thatcher's prime ministership ended not because she didn't have the votes on the floor of Parliament, but because she did not have the votes within her own party. Her replacement, John Major, was scorned by the press and public while in office and in 1997, lost in a landslide to Tony Blair and Labour in the Conservative Party's worst electoral defeat since 1832

Pelosi already has the votes within her party to become Speaker, and given that Moulton and co. haven't found a suitable challenger, it seems their efforts will fizzle out. Besides, it's important for Democrats to remember that the people who want her gone are not the Bernie Sanders left - they are the more conservative Democrats, like Congressman Tim Ryan, who claimed Democrats had "no juice" when talking about issues like women's rights and identity politics. As the party becomes less homogenous and more multi-cultural over the next two years, chances are it will favor the women who showed up in Amesbury last night - and not Seth Moulton.