Is Murtha's defeat a blow to Nancy Pelosi?
No, it isn't.
The talking heads and blogs are afire with Nancy's first "mistake". It was inevitable that she would support Murtha for Majority Leader. It is my belief she didn't want him to win.
There are times when you have to pull back the onion a bit. These are politicans after all and they did not achieve their position without a bit of savvy and a touch of underhandedness.
Public support of Murtha allowed Pelosi to throw a sop to the anti-war left in the party. Despite all the gobbledegook in the days following, the election was about the war. To not give Murtha a chance would have inflamed the wing of the party that rightly should be given some measure of credit in the success.
Pelosi also knows that Murtha is damaged goods. If it was only his stance on Iraq, she could have possibly sheperded him through the process. But the ghost of ABSCAM and a predilection for earmarks made this impossible. Secondary to Iraq, the election was about corruption. The whirlwind of Jack Abramoff and Mark Foley swept up at least 15 Republican house races. The last thing the new Democractic leadership wants is a whiff of taint in their halls of power.
My belief is while tepidly supporting Murtha in public, Speaker presumptive Pelosi used back channels to scuttle his chances. Hoyer is in line for the position and securing the blue dogs shores up her caucus. With his election both the blue dogs and the netroots stay in line. This is what leaders do. Play every slice of the pie to keep the whole.
Pelosi will take some minor hits for the "loss" but the memory of this moment will be dulled when the real action begins in January.