Democratic Rep. Scott Peters (Calif.) said his party has been left "in bad shape" after eight years of relying too much on Barack Obama's charisma to carry it through.
In a New York Times Magazine feature on the Democratic Party's struggle to define itself without Obama in the White House, Peters said he missed Obama but his natural political ability made people "lazy."
"I love the guy, I miss him," Peters said. "But organizationally, the party is in disarray. We’re at the lowest level of elected officeholders since Hoover. We got a bit lazy and found ourselves relying on Barack Obama’s charisma, and it left us in bad shape."
Peters also mocked fellow California Democrat and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.) for her "happy talk" on a Nov. 9 conference call, less than one day after a disastrous election where Republicans captured the White House and held majorities in the Senate and House.
House Democrats on the conference call said they expected Pelosi to sound contrite or perhaps acknowledge that blame for some of the losses, particularly among white, working-class voters, started at the top. Instead, she cheered some of the House seats Democrats held and dismissed the notion that they didn't care about some of the disaffected voters.
"To say we don’t care about them is hard to believe," Pelosi said, according to a transcript obtained by the New York Times. "I have to take issue and say I don’t think anybody was unaware of the anger."
Rather, Pelosi said they hadn't made their case clearly enough to voters.
"It reminded me of that scene at the end of Animal House, where Kevin Bacon is standing in the middle of all this chaos, screaming: ‘Remain calm! All is well!’" Peters said. "After telling us before that we were going to pick up 20 seats, and we end up with six, underlaid with Clinton losing, I had no use for that kind of happy talk."
The report said Peters spoke up on the call and said "I think we're missing something" and worried Democrats weren't sufficiently listening to their constituents.
Pelosi has dealt with calls from members of her caucus to step down and pave the way for younger leadership throughout 2017, but she said she has plans to move aside and has called herself a "master legislator."