Nancy Pelosi: Prima Inter Pares
By Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D.
Washington, D.C. (November 16, 2010) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be remembered as one of the best speakers of the House of the last 100 years, second only to Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn, the longest-serving speaker in history whose parliamentary maneuvers cleared the way for the passage of the Civil Rights Act and social legislation of the 1960s.
The acerbic hatred of Republicans towards her is proof of her effectiveness and accomplishments, an indication that she did an excellent job. They demonized this woman as worse than a monster. Most have called her the worst speaker in modern history. What do you expect from a party of lies and obstruction? Coming from the Republicans, this was an accolade supreme. Contrast their assessment of her (very negative) with that of Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute (very positive) – which one is more objective and credible? And they want to undo what she has done for the country? Good luck!
Four years ago, Nancy Pelosi became the highest elected woman in American history. She was the first Italian-American, first Californian, first grandmother to preside over the House. Some of the best include Henry Clay of Kentucky, who in 1811 protected the House’s identity from being eclipsed by the presidency and the Senate; Thomas B. Reed of Maine who in the 1890s enforced accountability, and banned stalling tactics and the “disappearing quorum” which legislators used to avoid voting, by pretending they were absent.
Massachusetts has produced eight speakers, twice the number of any other states. The three to remember because of their humble beginnings are: Joseph Martin Jr. who was the son of a blacksmith, first elected in 1924; John McCormack, son of a hod carrier, first elected in 1928; and Thomas “Tip” O’Neill Jr., son of a bricklayer, first elected in 1952. All flourished in an atmosphere of civility in contrast to today’s crudeness and vulgarity.
The near collapse of Capitalism in 2008 under GWB produced a hasty bank bailout, then an emergency stimulus bill. Since the 1830s economics dictated the outcome of midterm elections: If jobs don’t come back, the opposition party wins. There is little or no shame in losing the speakership. Reed lost his once, Rayburn twice.
Nancy Pelosi is controversial because she gets things done. She knows how to get to the 218. She was vilified but is resolute. She was undaunted by the polls that showed her the most disliked politician in the country (as per hate-campaign of lies by Republicans). Democrats (the cowards who were ducking her on the campaign trail) did not have the courtesy and decency to stand by their agenda, while the GOP Chairman (Michael Steele will be out of his job by early next year) was riding around the “Fire Pelosi” bus.
In recent months she traveled the country, raising funds for many Democrats, some of whom did not deserve it while they avoided her like she had leprosy. Since the beginning of 2009 she has raised $52.3 million for Democratic incumbents and candidates, the Congressional Campaign Committee, second only to Pres Obama. She would not quit Congress. She will run for Minority Leader, as she should.
During the campaign she was engaged in district-by-district assessment of the races, a type of political card counting she learned as the daughter of a Baltimore mayor and US representative (Thomas D’Alesandro Jr). She knew which of her members were in trouble, which needed her help and which ones did not want it. Many of them did not and do not deserve her support. They are cowards, losers, selfish, undependable and unreliable! With this kind of members in your team, it would be very hard to win.
She had many options after this month’s elections. She could have decided to retire from Congress after 25 years of public service or she could just serve her new 2-year term as a House member but not in the Democratic leadership, or she could seek to return to her old job as a Democratic Minority. She chose the third option to the disappointment of the Republicans. The talk of Rep. Heath Schuler (D-NC) of challenging her is nothing more than a trip to Lalaland to strengthen his constituents’ support two years from now. He is taken about as seriously by his Democratic colleagues as he was by secondaries when he was a lousy quarterback in the NFL and labeled by ESPN the biggest draft bust of all time.
Nancy Pelosi would whip his ass hands down – the question is by how much. Losing to a woman in the South brings greater embarrassment than anywhere in the country. More than half of the Blue Dog Democrats lost this month (only 23 out of 54 were re-elected) and with them any serious threat to Pelosi with a more centrist Democratic leader. The blue dogs are faceless. They’re neither Republicans (maybe they are GOP plants) nor Democrats (they are too conservative to be progressive). They don’t amount to much.
Losing the speakership once or twice is not the end of the world. Another problem she had to tackle was the fact that she is a woman, as Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) found out and decided to pull out of the race against Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). They would not have done what they did to her if she were a man. She remains House Speaker until January. Her priority includes passing a tax cut for those making $250k or under and a $250 payment for Social Security recipients who did not get a cost-of-living adjustment for the second straight year. She also hopes to pass legislation for child nutrition and food safety, depending on what the Senate could accomplish. A food safety bill has been stuck in the Senate for months.
Historians and nonpartisan political observers say Pelosi stands out among the 52 lawmakers who served as House Speaker since 1789; great ones are few, while Republicans are presently sharpening their weapons to intimidate Democrats to dump her because they are afraid to tangle with her. As a matter of fact, they are afraid of her and the TPM which won’t tolerate their never-ending games. They always talk about balancing the budget and avoiding deficit spending; but they never mean it and when they’re in power, they’re the biggest spenders in recorded history. What is sad is Eric Cantor telling Fox News the Republican-led House “will cut spending and will force fiscal discipline.” How many times have we heard this rhetoric since 1994 with the “Contract with America”? It is the same party singing the same stale and tepid song over and over again. Do they really think they can fool the American people again?
The introduction of the tea baggers into the body politic has caused consternation across Republican land. Rush Limbaugh is pulling his hair in anger at Republicans for the defeat of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell. Democrats should circle the wagon and play hardball. Who does it better than Nancy Pelosi? She is running for Minority Leader to help create jobs and protect Social Security and Medicare. Maybe this time they can retake the House with real Democrats. Most of the liberal members of the House Democratic caucus retained their seats after the 11/02 elections. She earned their loyalty through her vast fund-raising efforts, her history building the House majority in 2006, her goodwill among liberal interest groups and her mastery of the re-districting process which Democrats will face in the next cycle are reasons that they cannot afford to lose her.
Nancy Pelosi is a strong effective leader who accomplished everything her party asked of her as Speaker. She is the driving force for the middle. She talks the talk and walks the walk. She deserves any leadership position she cares to undertake and will do the same excellent job. The fact that some adolescent imbeciles can’t handle the truth about this great woman shouldn’t detract from that. Don’t worry what some people think of her. To be a good leader you need somebody who couldn’t care less what the mob thinks. Bear in mind that Republicans are masters of deception and character assassination. The fact that they loathe her so much gives her a lot of credibility. Congress should have more members like this woman.
Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D., is the President of the Asian American Business Roundtable in Germantown, MD (www.aabronline.org).