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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Not so fast, boys

I was on the road today, but I did listen to the broadcast of the "passing of the gavel", as Nancy Pelosi stepped down and the new Speaker of the House John Boehner stepped up to a Republican majority.

Mr. Boehner wept, of course. He has a bit of a track record on needing tissues in public.

Okay, so he wept when Ms. Pelosi introduced his wife and family.

Even so, it would have been understandable, this time, if he had 'cried a river'.

Mr. Boehner has some pretty big pumps to fill.

When Ms. Pelosi took the gavel as the first woman to be Speaker of the House, she faced a House so divided along party lines that she couldn’t count on a single Republican vote for legislation–which means that she had to wrangle fellow Democrats to demonstrate a discipline and unity they have not been famous for.

That wrangling resulted in a focus and a unity that produced an impressive list of accomplishments:
Health-care reform.


Financial reform.


Ethics reform.


A $787 billion stimulus.


The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.


A minimum wage increase.


Student aid.


Extending health coverage to 11 million children.


The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute said, “She ranks with the most consequential speakers, certainly in the last 75 years.”

With the Republicans now back in charge of the House, Ms. Pelosi has her new job (which was also her old job) — as House Democratic leader — cut out for her. Hard-won gains such as health reform are being threatened with repeal.

Ms. Pelosi today decried such efforts, saying it would “do very serious violence to the national debt and deficit.” Let alone to the health and wallets of American families.

She has been shamelessly attacked by those on the Right in a despicable display of sexism, the likes of which we haven't seen since Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic Nomination as President of the United States.

She has been demonized for her looks, her clothes, her values - you name it, she's been roundly criticized for it, leading some otherwise brilliant allies to question her effectiveness.

At the beginning of her term, the first lashings she received were when she stated that the CIA had misled Congress. For months she was the target of every single Republican who came near a microphone. Remember the phony, sanctimonious outrage of John Boehner? I do.

And then we learned that she was right. Eventually, we discovered that the C.I.A. DID mislead Congress by order of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and President Bush signed off on it. Everybody, it seemed, lied to Congress.

American women have spoken often and for decades about the difficulty of overcoming sexism in our political system. There is no doubt in my mind that there was a witch-hunt on Capital Hill and Nancy Pelosi's was its clear target. The outrage that flared up around her was hot enough to light the kindling under the sexist stake she had been tied to.

The only thing that rivaled the attacks on Madam Speaker of the House were the attacks on the President himself.

To the "Party of No", if you are a strong, intelligent, independent, focused woman, you are a "Femi-Nazi". If you are a woman who is a mouthpiece for patriarchy, you are a "Mama Grizzly".

Yet, through it all, Ms. Pelosi remained gracious as well as focused, doing everything her President asked her to do - and accomplishing the majority of the items on her lengthy "to do" list.

Mr. Boehner may have gotten the gavel today, but Ms. Pelosi’s still got the platform, the guts and the smarts to keep the accomplishments of her tenure from being dismantled. She also has the admiration of many of her fellow residents of the House, on both sides of the aisle.

Knowing how she stood up to withering attacks and seemingly insurmountable political odds,  I'm putting solid money on the fact that the Republican majority is not going to easily dismiss her as a force that needs to be continually reckoned with and taken as seriously as a heart attack.

For my money, she's the best hope we've got to 'stay the course' before the 2012 elections, which will, ultimately, win another four years of a Democratic presidency.

I'm praying that we can get The Dream Act passed.  DADT feels like an incomplete victory without it.

So, thank you, Madame Speaker. Thank you for a job well done. My prayers are with you as you continue your amazingly impossible job.

And, to all you boys in the House - just a few words of advice from Faith Whittlesey, who famously said -

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.

13 comments:

David da Silva Cornell said...

"I'm praying that we can get The Dream Act passed. DADT feels like an incomplete victory without it."

Amen, amen, three times amen on that.

And may former Speaker Pelosi be our once and future Speaker...

IT said...

Excellent post.
SOOooo true.

It's the old adage about a woman who distinguishes herself from a doormat automatically becoming a target.

I like Nancy Pelosi a lot. I'm proud she's from CA.

dbdonnell said...

I believe the Republicans spell that "Mama Grizzly," though your spelling is more accurate, IMO!

walter said...

..it was a few days ago that I intentionally look at Fox News Live, some of the speeches of John Boehner and particularly his seemingly felt emotional responses to issues of how America need to be put back on track. I intentionally say 'seemingly felt emotional responses' because what has been stolen from the Deep South folkloristic emotional manifestations has been the authenticity of it. As a professional politician his rhetoric aims at manipulating a folkloristic emotional manifestation to gain audience. In other words there is a puppet that cries at the command of greed for power. As for Nancy Pelosi, a very fine Lady. In the name of the One who keeps us centered and focused and truthful I pray Nancy Pelosi gaining momentum through the Deep South folkloristic manifestation of emotions. ILove my Little Girl, ILove my Traveling Mercies, ILove my Brother-ILove my Libby.

Walter Vitale

Anonymous said...

Didn't Ann Richardson make the remark about Ginger Rogers in her key note address to the Democratic Convention in the 80's?

I enjoyed your post.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

dbdonnell - Oops! Freudian slip there, which has been corrected, but I like the original.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Anonymous - It's a great quote that should be repeated more often.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

IT - Ms. Pelosi is a "California Gurl". You have the absolute right to be proud.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

David - I have such belief that the Dream Act is absolutely the right thing to do. It grieves me that Congress couldn't "multitask" on the justice issues. But, I have confidence that Madam Pelosi will push it through. Soon and very soon, please God.

Bex said...

The wingnuts I know couldn't stop dissing Nancy Pelosi. They were still repeating (last month) the discredited story about her "demanding" a large plane for her commute to California. Somehow, I don't think any of them will be asking what kind of plane Boehner uses.

MarkBrunson said...

Boehner was only crying because his cheap spray-on tan was running and got in his eyes.

Brent said...

They won' have to ask because Speaker Boehner ( Gosh that has a nice ring to it) has already stated immediately afterbthe election that he intends to fly commercial airlines tonhis home district.

MarkBrunson said...

I have no doubt that a Republican congress will live up to the name Boehner.

There may even be a USA left after they're done.