Nancy Pelosi is a 'pro's pro' - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Nancy Pelosi is a ‘pro’s pro’

BALTIMORE  – When the future Nancy Pelosi was growing up in this city’s Little Italy neighborhood, and her father, Tommy D’Alesandro, Jr., was winning three terms as mayor, little Nancy wasn’t like other post-war American girls.

Other girls spent hours playing with dolls in their bedrooms. Little Nancy dutifully wrote the names of voters on yellow pads of paper. Other girls read movie star magazines to learn the dating habits of Elvis Presley. Teenage Nancy learned to put people in touch with the various legal departments of the city of Baltimore.

She sat there at a little desk, beneath portraits of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, and assisted all those who lined up outside the D’Alesandro family home on the corner of Albemarle and Fawn streets.

Go back roughly seven decades, and there she was, already prepping for a job that would one day make her the most powerful woman in this nation’s entire history.

And, now that she’s in line to get back the power – as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives – you think she doesn’t know a few tricks about fending off those who would toss her aside for someone younger, someone less experienced, someone who hasn’t got the smarts to stand up to this barbarian president who does nothing in the face of climate emergencies, who turns his back on America’s historic allies, who separates children from parents?

She’s a pro’s pro. In 2010, the Republicans spent roughly $75 million to win back the House. A lot of it was spent demonizing Pelosi. This year, according to the Wall Street Journal, more than 135,000 House and Senate ads mentioned Pelosi “in an entirely negative context.”

None of this was a surprise to Pelosi, or to Democrats. Over the last two decades, she’s become the poster child for all that Republicans deem politically progressive and therefore, in their eyes, dangerous.

Many Democratic House members worried that the incessant tarring of Pelosi would drift like some nuclear fallout to their own campaign battles and perhaps even block Democrats from recapturing the House.

As a result, many distanced themselves from Pelosi throughout the campaign. Some in her party gave speeches assuring they’d vote for a new Speaker if the Dems took back power.

How did Pelosi handle it? Highly reliable sources say she told these Democrats: Do whatever you need to do to get re-elected, even if it means criticizing her.

In other words: She’s a big girl. Her feelings weren’t going to be hurt by campaign posturing in local districts. What was important was winning back the House, even if Pelosi had to take some unkind personal cuts along the way.

She’s a pro’s pro.

There are still Democrats trying to block her from re-taking the Speaker’s position. Pelosi smiles and assures everyone she’s “100 percent” certain she’ll hold onto her power.

She’s already erased one of the arguments against her – that 20 years of body slams from angry Republicans have so tarnished her image that it might cost the Democrats the House. Instead, they turned over nearly 40 previously-Republican seats on the way to winning back control of the House – and, with it, gained the chance to bombard the Trump White House with investigations.

But that’s the second argument against Pelosi. Even though Republicans like to disparage her as a “San Francisco liberal,” the current fight against her comes from those party members even further to the left than her.

They want to talk impeachment of Donald Trump. They want to punish Republicans for old battles, such as denying Merrick Garland a shot at the U.S. Supreme Court when Barack Obama was still president.

Pelosi’s just as angry as any of those seeking retribution, but she’s thinking long-range. Let the Mueller investigation play itself out, she says, and let public opinion help decide where to go from there.

The Democrats, says Pelosi, need to focus on what’s most important to voters: narrowing the economic gap between the super rich and everybody else. Rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges. Nurturing the environment.

That’s the way to hold onto the House – and, in 2020, as Pelosi sees it, win back the White House, as well. And maybe then, if Donald Trump is no longer around, it’ll be okay for Pelosi to step aside. She’ll know when it’s time.

She’s been playing the game since other little girls were playing with dolls, and little Nancy was toting up voter numbers.





About the author

Michael Olesker

Michael Olesker, columnist for the News American, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Examiner has spent a quarter of a century writing about the city he loves.He is the author of five previous books, including Michael Olesker's Baltimore: If You Live Here, You're Home, Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore, and The Colts' Baltimore: A City and Its Love Affair in the 1950s, all published by Johns Hopkins. Contact the author.
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