Pelosi a Towering Figure Across the Years Left an Indelible Impact: Washington, D.C. In two heartbreaking sequences, Nancy Pelosi stands up to the violent extremism that erupted late in her illustrious political career. In one, she recounts the vicious attack on her husband while appearing strangely frightened in a TV interview.
On the other, the House speaker, on the phone with Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, during the Capitol uprising, rips apart a packet of beef jerky with her teeth while firmly directing the Republican vice president on how to avoid the approaching mob. She commanded, “Don’t let anyone know where you are.”
That Pelosi is the person that lawmakers have bowed to, argued with, revered, and dreaded for the past twenty years. She is calm and in control in the midst of chaos, tart yet parochial-school appropriate at every turn.
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She has been one of the most important legislative leaders in the country during periods of war, financial instability, a pandemic, and an attack on democracy. She is the most influential woman in American politics.
In light of recent political setbacks and personal anguish, she concluded her period was coming to an end at the age of 82. On Thursday, Pelosi declared she will not run for the Democratic leadership position in the incoming Congress when Republicans take over the house in January.
She stood in the well of an enraptured House and made the announcement. Pelosi, who will continue to serve in the House, took her time breaking the news, reflecting on an unlikely career and remembering her first trip to the Capitol with her congressman father when she was 6 years old.
She admitted, “I never would have imagined that I would go from being a homemaker to House Speaker. On her future, she disclosed to reporters: “I enjoy singing and dancing. There must be life somewhere, am I right? Pelosi, who is divisive and confrontational, yet reached agreements with Republicans on important issues.
Regardless of how you felt about the outcomes, she cast votes across the board that had a significant impact on everyday people’s lives in a variety of ways. Among them is the availability of healthcare for many people, the condition of the roads, the reduction of student loan debt, the minimum wage, and the slow-moving but significant progress on climate change.
Pelosi’s campaign was praised as “extraordinary” by even former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, a self-described “partisan conservative who thinks that most of her policies are ridiculous.” And she said this as another “troublemaker with a gavel.” He lost steam, but she didn’t. Gingrich described her as “really domineering” in an interview. She’s undoubtedly among the best speakers in history. She has been quite disciplined and persistent.”
If you don’t want to be thrown out of town like a string of contemporary Republican speakers, all the way back to Gingrich, those characteristics are crucial. Sheep-herding is one thing. Herding Democrats and all of their tangled factions is a quite different matter.
Pelosi had to cope with the Out of Iraq Caucus, the liberal women of the Squad, the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, as well as old-school lawmakers who ran their committees like fiefdoms. Numerous of the aforementioned actions resulted in her well-practiced frigid disapproving glare, which was not always reserved for the opposing side.
2015 saw her remark, “Politics is challenging but intraparty? Dear brother, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a squad member who isn’t always Pelosi’s greatest supporter, said Thursday that Pelosi had “served as a beacon of hope” when she and her family immigrated from Somalia.
Omar recounted that Pelosi had offered her to join her on a 2019 trip to Africa “to demonstrate how far we have come as a country.” At times, Omar was the target of “send her back” chants at rallies for Donald Trump.
Frances Lee, a political scientist at Princeton, stated that Pelosi was without a doubt “among the few who are actually in charge, a strong legislative leader. She truly controlled her party’s position in the House of Representatives. It is important to recognize how challenging it is to manage them. Although it wasn’t always pretty, she managed to keep the party together. Pelosi was successful for nearly 20 years as the head of the House Democrats, including nearly eight years as speaker in two distinct terms.
“Those who oppose the speaker will suffer the consequences.” — to Democrats who rejected her early in her speakership when she pushed for a special committee on climate change. If they want to keep their necks intact, no one is leaving this room saying anything. — in the notes of John A. Lawrence, her then-chief of staff and author of a new insider book on her speakership, “Arc of Power,” who was seeking to broker a 2007 House-Senate agreement to limit pork.”
She occasionally had the ability to command her legislators without speaking. Democrats who had applauded when the House originally voted the articles of impeachment against Trump were quickly silenced with a flick of her hand. Pelosi was a stickler for institutional decorum and it was a time for sobriety. Although not always.
On the dais behind him, in front of the camera, she tore up her copy of Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address. People began to wonder if Pelosi had suddenly become into what she detested in Trump in response to the theatrical protest at one of the most important rituals of American democracy.
She claimed that when he arrived, she had extended her “hand of friendship” to him, but he had declined to take it. She said, “He seemed a little dazed.” While Trump was speaking, she skimmed her copy of the speech and stewed over the passages before making a decision.
She said sharply, “I shredded the address. He has shredded the truth in his speech. He has shredded the Constitution in his conduct. Thank you so much to everyone.
The State of the Union address by Republican President George W. Bush in 2007 was the “first to commence with these words: Madam Speaker.” He smiled, and she beamingly applauded. She remained cordial with the Bush family, particularly the elder George Bush, but Republican campaigns quickly identified her as the ideal opponent and never let go.
She was derided as “Darth Nancy” during the 2006 campaign, and as the years went on and politics grew more corrosive, the villainization of her became even more obscene, complete with references to guns.
In an interview, Lawrence stated that she “was and still is the epitome of the San Francisco liberal.” “It was created especially for them.” But “with her, there was a viciousness. They understood they could caricature and stigmatize aspects about her, her appearance and style, in a way that was a really powerful dog whistle of misogyny because she fits that bill so perfectly—a clever, attractive, effective woman.
Republicans frequently did it just for financial gain, and it was successful. Then they used her in advertisements to criticize Democratic candidates for Congress. Some of those also functioned. According to Lawrence, she would never, at least publicly, blame her gender for the attacks. She’d remark, “They did it because I’m effective.” then “fake” dusting off her immaculate jacket.
By the time the pro-Trump crowd came seeking her that Jan. 6, “Darth Nancy” was a quaint, distant epithet. “Pelosi is Satan,” read their sign outside the Capitol. Pelosi developed the skill of setting lofty goals and then failing one party segment or another without alienating her core constituency over time. Major accomplishments that were as left-leaning as the parties left wing desired are uncommon.
But there are numerous notable accomplishments. She chose an “Obamacare” bill, which over time significantly increased access to healthcare but did not offer everyone the option of government health insurance.
She agreed to a Bush-era stimulus package that essentially bailed out Wall Street when financial institutions and significant portions of the economy fell into the Great Recession as the 2008 election loomed, despite the fact that leftist Occupy Wall Street protestors had quite different ideas.
THE PELOSI CEILING
However, because of Pelosi’s longevity, many other rising stars in the party besides Harman have found they can only go so far before they reach the Pelosi ceiling. Simply said, the top position hadn’t been open. Pelosi didn’t have to answer any of Sunday’s tough questions regarding Biden’s intelligence or endurance. She continues to move around Congress in high heels at a pace that is difficult for individuals half her age to match.
But even before the elections, there was growing dissatisfaction within the ranks over the large number of veteran Democratic leaders who were still in power. No uprising was in the works, but Lee at Princeton felt that perhaps the time had come.
President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, Leon Panetta, praised Nancy Pelosi’s leadership and abilities but said that she “certainly should have spent more time developing a stronger bench in terms of leadership in the House and trying to ensure that others could follow in her path.” Who will be able to replace her exactly is now a matter of uncertainty?
She and Panetta first crossed paths in the 1980s, when he was a California congressman and she was beginning her career as a Democratic fund-raiser extraordinaire after her family had relocated there. Being the politically active daughter of Thomas J. D’Alesandro Jr., a three-term mayor of Baltimore and a five-term member of Congress from Maryland, she had previously acquired knowledge of transactional politics.
One of the factors that contributed to her success was her talent for convincing people to part with their money in support of Democratic candidates. These funds, according to Harman, are essential to the “large tent” Pelosi built for her caucus and to her ability to rule it—a “$1.25 billion tent.”
The Republican representative from Michigan named Fred Upton, who was in Pelosi’s first class and is stepping down from Congress, remarked of her, “This is why the Democrats have more money than God. She had magical powers, and I don’t believe she misvoted.
Other aspects of her influence, according to Gingrich, include “her fundraising, her capacity to garner extreme loyalty, and her readiness to punish anyone who disobeys her.” As a professional, you have to have a lot of respect for her capacity to amass and use power, as well as for her skill to construct a powerful machine, he added.
Despite their numerous differences, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement “I have personally experienced the breadth and fervor of her dedication to public service. There is no doubt that Speaker Pelosi’s significant and ground-breaking career will have a long-lasting impact.
Under Pelosi’s leadership, nothing was left to chance; even her wardrobe was carefully chosen to convey a statement. For instance, she matched a black dress she wore for the Trump impeachment with a gold pin featuring the House mace, a representation of her authority. Her sunglasses and burnt-orange winter coat, which she swooshed out of the White House after one especially tense exchange with Trump, rapidly became the subject of internet memes.
Pelosi wore suffragette white on Thursday for the big announcement of her intentions and accessorized with her mace brooch. According to Pelosi, the attack on her 82-year-old husband Paul last month made her inclined to remain in leadership rather than give radicals the joy of seeing her go. She suggested that if Democrats had won a majority, she might have persevered.
Her husband’s head was fractured with a hammer by the perpetrator, who according to the police had been hunting for the speaker. Pelosi said that she is overcoming “survivor’s guilt.” After the speaker and her father, is a third-generation Pelosi likely to run for office in Congress? There has long been speculation that Nancy’s daughter, Christine, would be first in line to fill Pelosi’s congressional seat if she decided to step down.
Pelosi pointed her gavel outside in a way that speakers had hardly ever done during her tenure to establish a claim to congressional authority in foreign affairs on behalf of the House as an institution. Pelosi traveled to foreign leaders with the goal to represent U.S. stability, particularly during the uncertain Trump years but also before and beyond, well beyond her yearly Mother’s Day visits to mothers serving in battle overseas.
She made a clandestine trip to Kyiv at the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine War and caused some trouble for the Biden administration this year with her shaky diplomatic visit to Taiwan.
Pelosi was known for opposing China in the past. She joined fellow American politicians in 1991 in unfurling a flag at Tiananmen Square after Chinese authorities suppressed pro-democracy rallies there in 1989 during her first international trip since being elected to Congress in 1987. Her most recent trip to Taiwan was another jab at Beijing.
Despite her influence in politics, Pelosi didn’t enjoy much support from the general public. Only roughly a third of respondents to a Pew Research Center study taken in late June and early July were favorable toward Pelosi, while six out of ten were hostile.
About 6 in 10 Democrats and Democrats who lean that way had positive opinions of her, although she was regarded less positively than Vice President Kamala Harris and Vice President Biden, who were both favored by 75% of Democrats. Republicans had a negative opinion of her at about 90%. She approached almost everything throughout as though it had a best-before date. After all, “Power is perishable,” she would add. The city of Washington is “perishable.”