House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is demanding a seat at the debt negotiation table now that talks are taking place between President Obama and the top Republican congressional leaders. It’s unlikely Pelosi is going to get a real seat at the table, however — she simply hasn’t made a compelling case for Obama to give her one.
Time and time again, the President has been able to cut deals without Pelosi at the table and yet she has delivered the votes he needed, over the objections of her own caucus. The war supplemental that included the $108 billion in IMF funding, the health care bill with the anti-choice language and no public option, the deal to extend the Bush tax cut and the recent Libya war defunding vote are just a few prominent examples.
The pattern is so well-established that President Obama can correctly assume that when the time comes, he can count on Pelosi to make sure her caucus walks the plank, no matter what he gives away to Republicans . She cannot point to one example which would indicate she would sink a deal that Obama negotiated without her.
The negotiation table is like the poker table: you don’t get a seat unless you have the chips to play. By failing to prove she actually has the will and/or the power to say no, Pelosi has shown the President she has no leverage.
No chips, no cards, no deal.