Legislatures don't run like electing a student body president. Leadership counts votes and generally knows what's going to happen before the bill comes up for a vote. So, what happened with the failure of the Bail Out Bill is a really a failure of House leadership.
I see three possible scenarios:
- Pelosi didn't know if she had the votes and gambled that the pressure of a vote would push people into a "yes" decision.
- Pelosi thought she had the votes, but got snowballed. If that's true there's going to be some payback from her.
- Pelosi knew it would lose and wanted that outcome.
People are blaming Republicans for the failure, but let's face it, there were plenty of Democrats who voted against this as well (95, in fact). Do you really believe Pelosi didn't know that?
Why would Pelosi want this last outcome? Easy answer: it gives the election to Obama and ushers in period of huge discontent that Democrats can take advantage of to expand their powerbase and send Republicans into the wilderness for 20 years.
I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I find it hard to believe that Pelosi is stupid or naive. That leaves me wondering why this came up for a vote today if she thought it would lose.