A bitter defeat for Nancy Pelosi

Holding signs reading "FIRE PELOSI," Tammy Tideman, left, of Mesa, Ariz., and Carla Schwarte, center, of Phoenix, join hundreds of supporters as they cheer Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as he walks on stage with his family, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, at a Republican election night party in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as US speaker of the House, appeared out of a job after a short but productive four years in office as Republicans retook the chamber she ran with gusto.

Pelosi, 70, won the distinction of being the highest woman ever elected to office in the United States. But while she earned the affection of Democrats for her strict and skillful running of the 435-seat House of Representatives, she swiftly became the woman the Republicans most loved to hate.

Always impeccably turned out, the representative from California is an influential and powerful lawmaker and a charismatic speaker. President Barack Obama has credited her with helping to push through some of his key reforms.

Married to a millionaire and a mother of five, Pelosi won admirers in party ranks for her fund-raising abilities as well as her success in uniting Democrats against Republican legislation.

But some Republicans have spoofed her as Disney’s would-be Dalmatian skinner “Cruella de Vil,” and portrayed her as a “wicked witch” of high taxes in a television commercial that sees her challenger melt her down to nothing with a bucket of water.

Pelosi, whose office says she has raised 52.3 million dollars this election cycle and held 212 political events in 24 US states plus Puerto Rico, recently shrugged off the attacks.

If “no one’s talking about you, you have to wonder what you were doing,” she said, calling the often personal criticism the “highest compliment” and stressing US politics requires “a suit of armor” and the ability “to take a punch.”

She certainly helped use her sway to push through key legislation. She powered an 800-billion-dollar economic stimulus plan to passage in February 2009, drove legislation to fight climate change through in June 2009, and led a Wall Street overhaul bill over Republican objections in June 2010.

Pelosi, who as House speaker is technically second in line to the presidency, now looks set to be replaced by House Minority Leader John Boehner come January when the new House gathers for the first time.

Boehner has described himself as “hopping mad” over some of Pelosi’s hardball tactics — notably the 11th-hour unveiling of the text of the controversial climate bill.

There have been many women advisers to US presidents, three women US secretaries of state, and two women US vice presidential hopefuls from major parties. But Pelosi was the first to be House speaker.

Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro was born to a political family with roots in Venice, Genoa, Abruzzi, Campobasso and Sicily and raised in Baltimore’s “Little Italy.”

“We were devoutly Catholic, deeply patriotic, proud of our Italian American heritage, and staunchly Democratic,” she once wrote.

She was first elected to Congress in 1987, joined the Democratic House leadership in 2001, became the first woman to lead a major US party in the House in 2002, rising to speaker after Democrats won a majority in 2006.

“Today, we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them,” she said on taking office in January 2007.

Asked once whether she was the most powerful woman in 100 years, Pelosi told ABC television: “That sounds good.”

Pelosi has also been a force on US foreign policy, notably leveling forceful attacks on China’s human rights record, criticizing the war in Iraq and making frequent trips to Italy.

Copyright © 2010 AFP

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7 Responses to "A bitter defeat for Nancy Pelosi"

  1. griff  November 3, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Ooooo…Nancy Pelosi criticized the war in Iraq. Quite a force on US foreign policy.

    I criticized the war in Iraq. Does that make me a force on US foreign policy?

    I haven’t been to Italy at all, much less very frequently, but of course I don’t have my own plane and unlimited taxpayer/lobbyist funding.

    Pardon me, I have to eat my cake.

    • Almandine  November 3, 2010 at 10:48 am

      After January, she doesn’t have one, either…

    • woody188  November 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm

      I’m with you buddy, if she’s so powerful, she could have stopped the war in Iraq. Unless that wasn’t really ever her goal. These politicians often display one face in public and quite another with the lobbyists in private.

      I believe however that the cap and trade law and the health care insurance law were her and the Democrats undoing this time around. Nearly everyone that voted for those two bills were unseated.

  2. bogofree  November 3, 2010 at 6:57 am

    I thought she was House of Medici?

  3. Sue  November 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve seen speculation that Ms. Pelosi will resign her seat – but I seriously doubt that. She’s called a “San Francisco Liberal” which is just silly. By Bay Area standards, she’s a moderate. If you want a real SF Liberal, take a look at my congress-critter. I live in Oakland, and “Barbara Lee speaks for me”.

    My prediction from the left coast: Ms. Pelosi will not resign, and after the next election once again throws out the party-in-power, she’ll be the Speaker again.

  4. WayneKDolik  November 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    The Plane! The Plane!!!

  5. Sue  November 5, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Tee Hee! Yes, but whose fantasy, Wayne?

    The first part of my prediction has been fulfilled, and Ms. Pelosi is staying in Congress for another term.

    Guess we’ll both have to revisit this in two years, then see whether my second prediction also comes true.

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