Thank you, Paul Krugman, for reminding me about Nancy Pelosi

If you haven’t read Paul Krugman’s piece in today’s New York Times, do.

He reminded me how spectacular a House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been:

So this seems like a good time to remind everyone that Pelosi is by far the greatest speaker of modern times and surely ranks among the most impressive people ever to hold that position. And it’s interesting to ask why she gets so little credit with the news media, and hence with the general public, for her accomplishments.

Although I have strong memories of her legislative management of the Affordable Care Act, I had not remembered other of her triumphs. And there were many.

First, as House minority leader, she played a crucial role in turning back George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security.

She helped enact financial reform, which has turned out to be more vulnerable to being undermined, but still helped stabilize the economy and protected many Americans from fraud.

Pelosi also helped pass the Obama stimulus plan, which economists overwhelmingly agree mitigated job losses from the financial crisis, as well as playing a role in laying the foundation for a green energy revolution.

Krugman analyzes why the GOP has to run against Nancy Pelosi, has to demonize her. (Literally.) And he gives a devastating run-down of the achievements of the great GOP speakers in our memory: Newt Gingrich, Denny Hastert, John Boehner, Paul Ryan.

Then he sums it up:

So what makes her “divisive”? The fact that Republicans keep attacking her? That would happen to any Democrat.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that she’s a woman — a woman who happens to have been far better at her job than any man in recent memory.

A huge sigh. Because, well, how many times can I face the reality that Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States because many people — including women — can’t abide the idea of a woman deserving of and having power.

Let’s call this part of the American war on women. It’s not misogyny per se. It’s worse, because it’s more subtle.

Then I read the many comments of Times readers. The ones from women virtually all began with “Thank you, thank you, thank you!!”

Many others started out with, “Nancy Pelosi has been terrific, yes, but…” and continued the current trope I’ve been picking up in comments for many months: “Nancy Pelosi needs to step down and hand the leadership over to new blood.”

A number of men blamed Pelosi for, well, what? One ended his multiple accusations with, “If Pelosi is such a great leader why is Donald Trump in the White House?”

Well, I could answer that but if I did I’ve have to kill him. (I already want to kill him.)

What I find most dismaying? The number of people who demonstrate in their comments a remarkable ignorance of politics and of politicians.

A few mere facts. Like all political representatives, Nancy Pelosi must choose to run again for her seat. If her constituents support her (in her last election, 2016, she won over 80 percent of the vote), and she chooses to run again, her constituents — and only her constituents — get to weigh in as to her merits.

Some surprise, huh? A guy in upstate New York does not get to determine whether Nancy Pelosi will keep her seat in the House of Representatives. Because, you see, that’s the way this all works: we get to vote for representatives in our own districts but not for representatives in other districts.

Moreover, we (the people) don’t get to select a party’s legislative leaders. The members of the party in that legislative body do. And here, too, a representative must declare her interest in and candidacy for that role. Not everyone wants to be Speaker of the House. And not everyone has the particular skills to do it.

So that “new blood” argument? “New blood” isn’t a qualification for a party leadership role. Experience in political management is — and that would include having a collegial relationship with every single party member in the House and a collegial relationship with many people in the other party. Because you have to gather the votes to pass legislation and that takes a lot of work.

Do these “new blood” voters think someone who is just entering the House with no experience in governance can — as someone just wrote — “herd the cats” in the party?

Those particular skills — actually, a certain kind of brilliance — are not found in just anybody.

One commenter said that Nancy Pelosi should step aside and hand the leadership to Adam Schiff. Or Eric Swalwell. I am a major admirer of both — see them on TV and follow them on Twitter — but I haven’t noticed either of them politicking for a job I’d think a lot of people wouldn’t want: herding all those cats and daubing iodine on all your scratches.

And, as I pointed out above, no one “hands” party leadership off. Party leadership is campaigned for and voted upon.

Well, I’m tired, the rain has stopped and I’m going to take a walk in which I will certainly get my sandals drenched.

Oh, and that “new blood” thing? Prejudice against age. And experience. And knowledge. And history. And great intelligence.

Why don’t you suggest Ruth Bader Ginsburg step down and give the opportunity to some “new blood?” What? What did you say?

Yeah, right.




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