As health care reform passes this afternoon it is noteworthy to consider Nancy Pelosi’s outstanding role as Speaker. Back in 2006 before the Democrats won Congress I was the first Australian observer to highlight her potential importance:
The task of uniting the Democrats in opposition has been surprisingly well-handled by San Francisco liberal and Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi who would become Speaker if the Democrats won. Pelosi has worked hard to encourage House Democrats to “just say no” to controversial Republican initiatives. In 2005 the House Democrats were the most united in 50 years in their voting record.
Martin Cady notes:
Nancy Pelosi has a chance to cement her reputation as one of the most powerful speakers in American history today.
But the political cost of this legacy may be great. On the march to health care reform Pelosi has been vilified by the right and has created incredible divisions within her own Democratic caucus. As she works the aisles during this afternoon’s historic vote, Pelosi will be walking among friends and colleagues who will get fired by voters this fall because they followed her lead. The conventional wisdom is that by late Sunday afternoon, Pelosi will have willed the House to 216 votes for passage of the biggest domestic piece of legislation in a generation, but nothing is certain until the gavel falls. The headlines tomorrow will likely focus more on the historic passage and how Democrats pulled it off. The intense focus on procedure and process will fade. The political fallout will not truly be known until November, and the substantive impact of this health care bill will not be understood for years.
Nate Silver: Pelosi should probably be Time’s Person of the Year for getting this done. Recall that Person of the Year by no means always go to someone who is universally liked. But, she’s very, very good at her job.
The Economist: She has presided over one of the most effective sessions in the history of the House, and if Congress finally passes health-care reform this weekend, she will have emerged the victor in the bloodiest battle America’s legislature has seen since the impeachment of Bill Clinton, if not longer. Maybe people (Democrats, at least) will finally start giving her the credit she deserves.
Pelosi herself may be a San Francisco liberal but she learnt politics in Baltimore, both her father and brother served as Mayor: a poster for her father or brother appears 1 minute in The Wire opening credits for series 3. Recently in Australia we had the hapless David Burchell, a severe victim of ex-Communist relevance deprivation disorder: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – chief among the gaggle of voluble airheads President Barack Obama has surrounded himself with of late
Clear who is the airhead now I think. Alas Australia has its share of such individuals and they have too much influence in the ALP imagine a Cabinet of Burchells? The correct definition of pragmatism is flexibility on means to an end not merley governing for the sake of it, perhaps in my middle age I’m finally joining the Keating fan club