Nancy Pelosi Goes Mano a Mano on the Border Wall

In the runup to the mid-term elections last year, I was among many Democrats who felt a bit queasy about the prospect of Nancy Pelosi returning as Speaker of the House, assuming the Dems took control of the chamber. Fresh start, clean slate, she’d been so demonized by the opposition as the quintessential radical San Francisco liberal—maybe we should start anew with a younger face who wouldn’t be yoked to the past so we could usher in a less encumbered generation of leadership.

All of that was in the air, and I was breathing it in, not in great gulps, but tentatively, as through a straw.

Then I just happened to behold her in a “60 Minutes” interview they may as well have entitled, “Hear Nancy Roar.” 

What a beast, I realized. We’d be crazy to let this fierce woman’s cojones go to waste as just another representative from California.

In her interview, she emphasized, in pointed, don’t-mess-with-me terms, that of course Trump and the Republicans had done everything possible to sully her reputation and were trying their damndest to make sure she did not return as speaker.

Why would they be doing that, ya think?

Her great courage is in refusing to be cowed by male bullies who think, in the time-honored tradition of male patriarchy, that they can ‘put her in her place…’

Pelosi knew the answer, even if many Democrats hadn’t quite realized it at the time. She wasn’t so much bragging as she was simply stating a dead-on fact with that dead-serious stare of hers: Because she is effective, and powerful, and Republicans would love nothing better than to be rid of her.

Bring on some nice boring white guy from the midwest, would have been their preference. “Someone we can work with.”


That’s when I knew that whatever agitation would be coming from either Republicans or young turk Dems fresh to Congress who wanted someone younger, hipper to the ways of social media, and even, gasp, more lefty than Pelosi, she would wind up eating them all for lunch, primly holding the napkin to her lips afterwards with a coy Hannibal Lecter-like smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.


That was then—a screen shot from the Republican Party website in 2010, showing how ardently they wanted Pelosi out of the speaker’s chair.


Most reasonable people want to see the two major political parties get along with at least some degree of mutual respect. We  want them to swing deals, after all the bloviating for the cameras is done, that will inch our country forward, however haltingly, in the heave ’n ho democracy that was so adroitly conjured by our Founders.

Indeed, I thought (way mistakenly, it turns out), that Trump himself would look to be more that kind of president than not, fancying himself the master dealmaker as he does. But then his victory turned out to be as much a product of the radical Christian right, Obama haters, and out-and-out racists as it was a statement of traditional mainstream Republican voters. That saw Trump veering further and staying so hard right and desperate that all the baseline ugliness of his character burst forth in full poisonous flower.

We all know the tortured history from there, Trump creating such a climate of chaos and no-holds-barred schoolyard bullying that he put opponents—among them countless loyal Republicans—in an impossible bind. Their choice was either to get down in the pigpen with him for an exhausting and debasing mud wrestle, or adopt a loftier, restrained approach, playing by rules that don’t exist anymore—and thereby getting their brains beat out by a remorseless opponent who delights in their naiveté and regards it as just another notch on his “Winner’s” belt.

Enter Madam Chair.

Pelosi’s great genius is she knows what power is about—who has it, who doesn’t, what its limits and possibilities are.

Her great courage is in refusing to be cowed by male bullies who think, in the time-honored tradition of male patriarchy, that they can “put her in her place,” shame her, swat the uppity, ball-crushing bitch away like a bothersome gnat and pave the way once again for the boys to convene in their power suites where they determine the fate of the world.

Men like Trump, and the hapless Wilbur Ross, he of the $700 million fortune who couldn’t understand why 800,000 furloughed federal workers couldn’t just stroll down the street to their neighborhood bank and take out a loan to get them through the government shutdown.

These are men who have convinced themselves their business “success” and outsized fortunes are due strictly to their tireless hard work and smarts, which thus qualifies them to tell everyone else what to do and why they should appreciate being told how to do it.

Men who don’t appreciate and can’t fathom it when a Nancy Pelosi tells them, “No, I won’t allow that.”

Bracing, is what that is. And forever instructive for the Ocasio-Cortezes and all the others of her generation who have been watching. I hope they’re appreciating what they have seen here as the government shutdown apparently comes to an end—at least for the next three weeks—with Trump declaring in the Rose Garden today how “proud” he was to announce it. (Right, to be thoroughly humiliated, brought to heel and forced to surrender to Madam Evil Nemesis, oh yes, he is having the time of his life on this Friday afternoon…)

Nancy Pelosi has been carrying a heavy weight for a very long time, not only on behalf of her party, but probably more far-reachingly, her gender. She’s like a running back with several 300-pound linemen draped on her, tearing at her hair, gouging her eyes, all while she lumbers relentlessly forward, hard-won inch by inch, her eyes singularly focused on the goal, showing how to stare down a colossal bully while making the world her female successors inhabit safer and more rife with opportunity than it ever could have been without her and her wise steely ways.


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11 comments to Nancy Pelosi Goes Mano a Mano on the Border Wall

  • Mary  says:

    So it is ok when Pelosi roars and terrible when Kavanaugh roars? I miss the non political days of your blog.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Mary, I think their respective roars were from highly different contexts, and even the quality of them were almost opposite. Pelosi never seemed to raise her voice, for but one thing. She didn’t have to to make her roar heard around the world.

      Actually, I miss the non-political days of my blog, too. I wish the situation we face weren’t as urgent as it strikes me as being, but there are many days when it is hard to think or write about anything else, and I feel a kind of duty to speak out, one other small voice in this vast wilderness of dissent, about what I feel is a serious threat to our democracy. I wish I were just some lone loony tunes awash in paranoia in this matter, but if I am, I seem to have much learned and sober company.

      In any case, perhaps you missed my most recent post just last weekend? The subject was grace, not politics, something we could all use as much of as we can get in this world. But on a (non-partisan) political note, pray that it descends on our leaders in the coming weeks and months…

  • Julie Johnson  says:

    “Steely,” “bracing,” “courage”–great words any leader, female or male, would be proud to read.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Glad you noted those, Julie. I probably didn’t emphasize above but should have Pelosi’s fine balancing act of avoiding both the mud wrestle and any hint of acquiescence to Trump. Dignified all the way, but steely indeed. Knows who she is, who her opponent is, and how and when to leverage her strengths. She”ll go down in history as a powerful speaker in an extremely challenging time, I think.

  • Jeanette Stokes  says:

    Way to go, Andrew!! Love this blog.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      I’m happy to know you’re getting something out of it, Jeanette, thanks!

  • Al  says:

    I credit Nancy Pelosi with much of the hard work in passing the affordable care act. A lot of men (Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer) have taken on the role of cheerleader for her. Her experience in dealing with children doesn’t hurt.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Yep Al, she’s seen all the bluffs & all the bullying, hasn’t she? Sometimes, you have to be as steely with kids as you are with a president—both call on a lot of inner fortitude!

  • Karen  says:

    Here is a simple thank you for pointing out something hopeful in these times. I needed that!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Well thank you Karen, but I think about 99% of the credit for that would have to go to Nancy P. Guys like Al and me (and Chuck Schumer…) are just hanging on for the ride!

  • Jay Helman  says:

    Many, many thanks for this one. I believe that I texted you on the evening of the midterms when it was apparent the Dems were kicking it. I texted to say we better find a Speaker other than Pelosi for the reasons you noted at the beginning of this post. Needless to say, I too was sucked into the narrative that change was needed; that Pelosi was damaged goods, etc. My, my, how badly we underestimated this badass leader. She is not only tough, steely, and courageous: she has terrific instincts and common sense. She clearly knows how to manage the Donald. Aware of his bottomless need for TV exposure, she yanked it from him by taking away the State of the Union. This clearly deflated him. She has the courage and the sense to say no to the bully, knowing that his bluster has nothing behind it. Because of her, some of his own Senate members are beginning to see the danger and foolishness of his shutdown strategy. In the meantime, Mueller quietly marches along. I look forward to the indictments that will surely follow Roger Stone. (By the way, to all: do not miss Steve Martin doing Roger Stone on SNL last week. Someday we will miss the comedic genius inspired by this Administration.)

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