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Donnie Fowler: The Once & Future Speaker

By Huffington Post
November 5, 2010


Nancy Pelosi is a fighter.

Is there a way to say that more simply?

She led the House Democrats out of 12 years in the minority in 2006.

She set the stage for Barack Obama’s 2008 election by standing up to George Bush during his last two miserable years in the White House, drawing contrasts that matter.

And after eight years of hyper conservative policies that nearly bankrupted our nation, Nancy Pelosi turned a progressive agenda into progressive laws over the last two years — extraordinary progress on health care, clean energy, Wall Street reform, economic recovery, civil rights, and so much else.

Even if you don’t think these achievements are perfect, it’s really hard to say that the Republicans who are about to take back the driver’s wheel in the House would have gotten George Bush’s bank bailout money back, would have passed a law to guarantee women equal pay, or would have ensured that all kids with pre-existing medical conditions can get health insurance. That stuff just ain’t on the GOP’s to-do list.

Nancy Pelosi is going to return to temporary status as minority leader. The once and future Speaker will be back in 2012.

After two years of deferring to those who wanted compromise with Republicans who had (and still have) absolutely no goal except defeating Democrats, Pelosi can now say that didn’t work. She is now free to offer a full-throated argument for progressive values while drawing clear distinctions between a narrow, right-wing agenda and a broad vision for our nation’s future. Democrats have got to stand up for what they stand for.

Those who say Nancy Pelosi should not be the House leader or even that she should resign simply don’t have their facts straight.

First, only two Speakers since World War II have left the job and the Congress because their party lost the majority. Those happened to be the last two — Newt Gingrich after the 1998 Republican disaster and Dennis Hastert after the GOP was ousted in 2006.

Second, there is precedent for losing the majority and sticking around to win it back. Two Speakers in the last 64 years have won the job, lost the job, and won it back again. Who? Well one, Democrat Sam Rayburn from Texas, is considered, like Speaker Pelosi, to be among the most effective House leaders in American history. He also happened also to serve longer in the job than anyone else.

Third, the punditocracy in DC did not call for Mitch McConnell’s scalp in 2006 when the Republicans lost the majority under his leadership. The GOP Senate leader says that his only priority is to take down President Obama in 2012. Anything wrong with a Nancy Pelosi who wants to stop him, John Boehner, and Rush Limbaugh from getting what they want?

No one else is better for the job.

From The Huffington Post