The effort to thwart Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid to regain the House speakership is sputtering. A recent interview with CNN’s Dana Bash provides some insight as to how Pelosi has crushed her opponents — with a smile:
“None of us is indispensable, but some of us are just better at our jobs than others.” That sort of put-down is classic Pelosi — confident, hard to dispute and said with a smile.
She’s the only woman speaker in history — and will be again, if her counting skills are as formidable as she says. (No one since Sam Rayburn in the 1950s has returned to the speakership.) And that makes her the most successful woman politician ever — more successful than a failed presidential candidate or any governor or senator. We are witnessing the most powerful woman ever to hold public office swat away amateur inside-baseball players.
So what gives an overwhelmingly white, male list of challengers — not a household name or accomplished legislator among them — the temerity to seek her ouster, in an election masterminded by Pelosi (who told her troops to drop talk of impeachment and focus on health care) in which about 100 women (well over 50 of whom were Democrats) were elected to the House, Democrats picked up 39 or 40 seats, and female voters in the suburbs arguably made the difference between a blue trickle and a blue tsunami?
Pelosi recollected the reaction of male colleagues the first time she ran for a leadership spot. Channeling their reaction, she recalls, “ ’Well, why? Do the women have a list of things they want us to do? Why don’t they just make a list and give us the list?’ This is the Democratic Party in the year 2000.” In other words, seeing male colleagues slough off her stature is nothing new. “I get some names called, because if you’re effective as a woman, then they have to undermine you, because that’s a real threat,” she told Bash. “So I’m probably the target — more of a target than anybody except for somebody who runs for president.”
Oddly, Republicans are among those most stunned by the stupidity of throwing out someone of her effectiveness, someone whose vote counting skills and tenacity are second to none. (In some fashion or another, you hear the reaction “Really, these nobodies want to oust her ’cause we made her a boogey-woman to amp up our resentful, male base?”) It turns out the vast majority of Democratic House members, opinion-makers, operatives and other officeholders have come to the same conclusion.
It’s rare you see a woman so boldly claim her right to power. She said, “I do it because I want women to see that you do not get pushed around and you don’t run away from the fight.” That she has to give any explanation reflects the ongoing double standard. No one generated a list of challengers for Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) or James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who will reclaim the majority leader and whip positions, respectively.
In any event, Pelosi seems poised to retain her spot. Some people are just better than their jobs than others.