I like fighters. I especially like intelligent, women fighters and Nancy Pelosi certainly fits that bill. The savvy, gutsy House speaker has announced her intention to run for Minority Leader in the next Congress, and I hope the Dems get their act together and elect her.
Pelosi knew exactly what she wanted to accomplish as speaker and she laid that agenda out clearly when I interviewed her in July 2008. Her three priority pieces of legislation—"Jobs, healthcare and energy."
And that’s just what a politically diverse House Democratic caucus pulled off under her progressive leadership.
It passed a healthcare bill that included a public option, and taxed the wealthy rather than workers’ benefits. And when the bill looked all but dead no one fought harder to revive it than she did. It passed a larger stimulus bill than the Senate and bolder jobs bills. And it passed an energy bill that capped carbon. In all, more than 400 House bills weren’t even voted on by a meek Senate straitjacketed by the filibustering GOP and enough conservative Democratic accomplices.
Pelosi always seemed to know exactly who she’s fighting for. Her judgment is good: exit polls suggest Democrats would have fared far better this election if they had followed her lead and made job creation a priority.
"My view in politics is deeply rooted in how I was raised in politics: it’s all about economics," she told me. "They are sucking the money out of the middle class to the advantage of the wealthiest people in our country. This is like a hundred years ago, the Gilded Age and everything that went with that in terms of unfairness to working families. I think there is that much at risk. We have to respect industries in our country, but they cannot call the shots about what we’re going to do about global warming, about healthcare, about fairness in our economy."
Pelosi never underestimated the political risks of her aggressive agenda but didn’t let it stop her. She told The Nation‘s Christopher Hayes that Washington, DC, is "the city of the perishable. When you got the vote, you take the vote."
But one thing she didn’t count on was a monolithic Party of No in the Senate. Like President Obama, she seemed to have some faith that there would be reasonable people across the aisle. "They’ll have to search hard and long for some Republicans who will want to stand in the way of progress," she told me.