Along with the kudos to Nancy Pelosi for the health-care reform victory comes a personalized Republican campaign to "fire" her. "Why target her? Why make her the villain?" RNC chairman Michael Steele was asked. Yeah, why?
Well, for one thing, it's working. A glance at the RNC's website shows they are close to raising $1 million towards their goal of gaining 40 seats, which would abolish the Democratic majority, thus stripping Pelosi of her speaker status.
But for all of the Pelosi haters, there are plenty of people giving her credit for being "the most powerful woman in American history," and "Lyndon Johnson in a skirt."
Last night, in an interview with Diane Sawyer, Pelosi was asked to respond to the Economist crowning her with the Most Powerful status.
"That sounds good," she said, laughing. "I don't, I don't take it personally, except I take it as a compliment for all women....Because as the first woman speaker, I certainly wanted to demonstrate that we could get a job done that has eluded others for a century."
The Economist had cited Pelosi's grit in getting the health care bill through:
Ms Pelosi's statement of resolve on January 28th-""We will go through the gate. If the gate is closed, we will go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we will pole vault in. If that doesn't work, we will parachute in. But we are going to get health-care reform passed"-was the signal that the Democratic leadership had decided to ride out the aftershocks of Scott Brown's election and go all-in on getting the bill passed.
That trait is a signature of Pelosi, as a 2008 profile in The New Republic revealed:
Don't let the perky-grandmother-in-pearls schtick deceive: Nancy Pelosi is not a woman who responds well to threats or disrespect in any form. For years, she has struggled to be taken seriously—dismissed, variously, as a rich dilettante, a lefty crusader, and a smiley, wide-eyed dingbat. Chronic underestimation, say those close to her, has chafed but has also helped Pelosi fuel her rise with a blend of political cunning, hard work, and raw will.
In other words, being told her whole life that she couldn't do something has just made Pelosi work harder. And she's done so while trying to maintain a "soothing manner" that won't scare off her targets — the RNC's donors notwithstanding. As Barney Frank told The New Republic,
"Nancy is a very smart woman who used to be a very smart girl at a time when smart girls were told that if they were too smart they would scare away the boys." Now, he adds, no matter how tough Pelosi has to be, in private she has "a manner" that helps soothe ruffled feathers.
Nancy Pelosi's Exclusive Interview With Diane Sawyer [ABCNews]
Pelosi Gets Her Props [Economist]
Pelosi's Hammer [TNR]
House Broker [TNR]
Nancy Pelosi, The Most Powerful Woman In America [Economist]
Nancy Pelosi's Challenge [Economist]
Fire Pelosi Web Site Fires Up Donors [UPI]
Love Her Or Hate Her, Health Care Reform Hero Nancy Pelosi Is "Lyndon Johnson In A Skirt [NYDN]