Monday, March 22, 2010

Nancy Pelosi: The Best Speaker In The Last 100 Years

Tonight, Nancy Pelosi eclipsed the legendary Tip O'Neill by doing what even he could not accomplish: passing health care reform legislation. Man, she's got the biggest balls in the House! John Boehner must be envious. Pelosi did what was heretofore impossible, and for my money, she's the best Speaker of the House in the last 100 years.

The passage of healthcare reform is not just a triumph of Pelosi’s liberal idealism, though it is partly that. It’s just as much a triumph of her underappreciated legislative savvy – mastery, really. In the ’01 leadership race, Hoyer was supposed to be the skilled tactician. Pelosi was supposed to be the clueless ideologue. But as speaker, she’s adeptly she’s mixed her idealism with the deft touch of a seasoned congressional insider.

You need look no further than the healthcare saga for confirmation of this. Who else could have pulled off what Pelosi just did? For more than a year, she carefully balanced the wildly disparate interests of her caucus’ various coalitions – the progressives who demanded a “robust” public option, the Blue Dogs who cared mainly about deficits, the pro-lifers who made abortion their make-or-break issue, and on and on. She gave away just enough to each group to keep reform alive – without sacrificing her own bottom-line of near-universal coverage.

She also went to war with the Senate after the Massachusetts special election – and won, forcing that chamber’s leaders to embrace the reconciliation process they’d been shunning.

Since Obama’s inauguration, Pelosi has racked up an impressive list of achievements. She pushed the stimulus bill through, then cap-and-trade, and now healthcare. And those are just the headline items. For a woman who supposedly hails from her party’s left-wing fringe, she sure has a knack for winning over moderates when it matters.
And what's wrong with her "San Francisco liberal values," anyway? Seems to me we could use a few more of them in Congress, and across the country. Damn certain we don't need the tea party's idea of "values".

Three years into her tenure as Speaker of the House, legislating the snot out of the Democratic agenda, Pelosi has quietly cleared the docket for her aggressive to-do list. Certainly 2008 was Obama's. He earned it. But 2009? Not so much. Pelosi wrestled that one for her own simply by executing her duties — two escalating briar-patch wars, one caterwauling economy, and all those thick and meaty state-by-state unemployment numbers aside. With the midterm elections ten months away, you can mark it down: Nancy Pelosi is winning. Not hearts and minds — those she leaves to Obama; they are his to lose. The Speaker wins alliances and coalitions. The Speaker wins votes in the House. They are the only relevant measure of her success. She doesn't particularly need anyone to love her. She doesn't work for that. She simply wants to win.
Well, for what it's worth, I think she's the best! And tonight, win she did, and big. Nancy Pelosi is simply the best Speaker in the last 100 years.

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