For Pelosi, a Familiar Dilemma

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is facing the same problems in rounding up a House Democratic majority for a vote on the war as Bill Clinton had in finding support for his economic-stimulus package in 1993. A notoriously fractious bunch, Democrats in the House are almost impossible to discipline. But they can be bribed. Just as Clinton paid them off with all manner of pork, so Pelosi is being forced to add sweeteners, in the form of local projects, to bring all the congressmen she needs to pass her anti-war amendment on board.

The problem is that the pork then acquires a life of its own, and will besmirch the record of Pelosi just as it did that of Clinton. The fact is that when you are depending upon a majority of House Democrats, you are no longer their leader, but instead their hostage, and they are no longer your followers, but become your jailers.