Marcia Fudge Melts Before Hot Fire of Nancy Pelosi's Gavel Of Doom
You've probably seen at least one of the many movies or TV shows where a group of young jerks tries to oust a perfectly qualified executive just because they're old. Democrats Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, and some other goofy white boys are apparently too stupid to understand they're the heavies in this flick. Now we've entered the climax of the story where they meet their much-deserved comeuppance.
The #FiveWhiteGuys have tried for no reason to block Nancy Pelosi from a return engagement as speaker of the House. Pelosi just led House Democrats to their greatest electoral victory since Watergate, but because Pelosi has been able to vote since Watergate, these fools thought it was time for her to step down and let white men run things for a change. Sensitive to the optics of replacing the first woman speaker, Ryan stressed that there were some other "really competent females" (no, really) who could do the job. So, they flipped through their binder filled with "competent females" and came up with the competent-est one, Marcia Fudge from Ohio's 11th district. Fudge is not just "really competent" but she's younger and blacker than Pelosi.
Now, Marcia Fudge was never going to be speaker, because no one's ever heard of her. Not me. Not you. Not even members of the sister's own household. I bet Fudge was reading the news and thinking, "Who the hell is this Marcia Fudge people say is gonna challenge Nancy Pelosi? She'd have to be crazy."
But Fudge also made some good points that Democratic leadership was really white and didn't fully reflect the voters who put Democrats in power. Black women in particular are the most prominent and reliable Democratic voting bloc.
"When you look at the people who support this party the most, they are women and African Americans and especially African American women," said Fudge. "We keep talking about diversity, but there is nothing diverse about the top of our ticket. We have to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk."
Of course, you'd have to be snorting crystal meth with a cocaine chaser to believe the #FiveWhiteGuys are serious advocates of increased diversity in Democratic leadership or that they'd really go to all this trouble just to hand the speaker's gavel to a black woman. It was all a chess move and Pelosi checkmated them all over the damn place. Her response to a Fudge challenge? "Come on in, the water's warm." Yeah, honey, don't go near that water. It's scorching. Move forward and you'll end up with burnt Fudge.
Pelosi met with Fudge last Friday and cut to business. She straight-up asked what it would take for Fudge to stop running around with those silly boys and back her for speaker. Fudge wanted to know if Pelosi had succession plans, and of course she did because Pelosi is all about plans. But the meeting was still effective. Fudge started to waver. She believed she was qualified but the job had a lot of responsibility, probably more than being a House representative you just heard about a week ago.
"It's a lot to travel every single weekend. It's a lot to do all the fundraising," [Fudge] said. "It's a lot to juggle all of the things that our caucus, which is more diverse now and bigger, is going to need."
Yeah, you know who was doing all that like a boss? Nancy Flippin' Pelosi. Things took a further turn last week when Lance Mason, a former Cuyahoga County, Ohio, judge and ongoing asshole, was accused of fatally stabbing his former wife, Aisha Fraser. Fudge had written a letter supporting Mason prior to his 2015 sentencing for a domestic violence conviction. Mason had pleaded guilty to brutally beating Fraser, the woman he'd later kill.
"Lance accepts full responsibility for his actions and has assured me that something like this will never happen again," Fudge wrote. "[He] is a good man who made a very bad mistake."
So, yeah, bad call. Really bad call.
This is just a taste of the heat and scrutiny a future speaker would face. But even without the Mason incident, Fudge was never a true threat. The Congressional Black Caucus, of which Fudge is a member, still rallied behind Pelosi, and chief lady in charge clamped down support from the progressive wing of the party, including many incoming freshman members. It's not surprising that Fudge dropped her speaker bid Tuesday and formally backed Pelosi, who in turn announced she was naming Fudge the incoming chair of a new elections subcommittee that will focus on voting rights access. This is necessary and important work because Republicans are crooks.
It's sadly typical: Pelosi had to reapply for the job she's proven she can do by demonstrating to clueless morons how well she does it. Meanwhile, the folks who signed the #FiveWhiteGuy's much-storied letter opposing Pelosi are starting to see the writing on the wall of Nancy's House. Rep. Brian Higgins is the latest to fold.
Seems like all Moulton and his fellow tools have to show for their efforts is a future consisting of women telling them how much they suck. And that's something we can all feel thankful for when digging into the turkey tomorrow.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.