By the time I was a high school freshman Speaker Carl Albert was the first House leader I was aware of, but it would be Speaker Tip O’Neill who I simply adored. When it comes to where policy and political acumen hit the road at just the right speed and location, however, none was better in my lifetime than Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I reveled in her being a strong woman at a time when too many mostly white men thought it was still their time to always be in power. What rankled them even more, when it came to Pelosi, was that she was successful over and over and over again.
On Thursday, Nancy Pelosi told her colleagues she would be stepping down from the leadership of the House come January.
With Pelosi in a leadership role, Democrats challenged President George Bush over the invasion of Iraq and thwarted his plan to privatize Social Security. For me, the most powerful moment that will have a historical memory always associated with it was her skills and relentless attitude to win the approval of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It will always be her supremely greatest legislative achievement. She helped steer the nation through a grave economic crisis in 2008 and this session racked up the much-needed climate change legislation. Pelosi proves what an educated purpose-driven life can achieve, and we are all the better for it.
Pelosi well-knew a key rule of politics is to never enter a battle without knowing the next possible hands to play. During Donald Trump’s one term in office, we soon realized that he was unaware of how to play the long game. He was a transactional personality, often referred to contemptuously as a ‘day-trader’, and not known to think strategically. In January 2019, the federal government shutdown continued, the economy was suffering as a result, and the polls proved Trump along with the Republicans in congress were paying the price.
But Trump wished to head to Congress anyway and give his State of the Union Address. Speaker Pelosi, citing the government shutdown, told Trump in so many words to either reschedule his upcoming address or to deliver it in writing to Congress. Left unsaid was that he was not going to be allowed to stand before the nation from the House to spout lies about the shutdown. That was not happening on her watch.
In a pithy and perfect comment, Pelosi said, “He can make it from the Oval Office if he wants.”
I will miss her strength and common sense. And what we know is most vital in politics. Perfect timing.
Thanks, Speaker Pelosi.