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Pelosi: The Most Powerful Woman in US History

Don Rose 29 January 2019 2 Comments

Nancy Pelosi returned to the highest national office ever held by a woman and proved herself again the equal or better of any predecessor, wielding all its inherent powers with consummate skill.

  Her superior political skills helped defeat Donald Trump in his hostage-taking effort to get that wall Mexico was supposed to pay for. She is the indispensible Democrat–and her handful of critics within the party ought to know it by now.

np and dad

  In her first term she was responsible for passing all Barack Obama’s legacy achievements–health care, rescuing the economy and saving the auto industry.  That made her a hate-symbol among Republicans, who demonized and ran against her when seeking numerous congressional seats.   But it was she who came out on top this past mid-term election.

    The only woman ever to become Speaker of the House, she is next in line for the presidency after the vice president. She has the power to determine what legislation will be considered by that body, which happens to hold the national purse strings. She also consistently delivers her increasingly diverse caucus–a job often described as harder than herding cats.

    Those are among the reasons I say she is the most powerful woman in US history–differentiating “power” from “influence.” Power is the essentially statutory ability to make someone say “yes” when he wants to say “no.” Influence is the capacity to gain widespread agreement through argument or personality.

    Many women have influenced various aspects of American life. Eleanor Roosevelt was possibly the most influential of the last century–but without any absolute power.

   Other first ladies from Dolly Madison to Nancy Reagan to Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama were influential because of their proximity to power. Clinton as senator and secretary of state had some limited powers but nothing like the speaker.  Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve Board held genuine power in a circumscribed arena.

    Books by women from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” greatly impacted society–the former promoting abolition, the latter helping establish the environmental movement. Female social activists on the left and right, from Susan B. Anthony to Margaret Sanger to Phyllis Schlafly to Gloria Steinem and Ann Coulter all exercised influence without statutory power–like Oprah Winfrey.

   The list could go on, but until we have a woman president–which might come soon–we have Pelosi. What a wonderful mix she is. An authentic San Francisco progressive  and peerless strategist who plays the sophisticated, hardball, power politics she learned at the feet of her late father, Tom D’Alesandro.  He was mayor of Baltimore and boss of  its political machine,  which rivaled the elder Daley’s in strength but was often more progressive. A deadly combination for the GOP.

   From the moment she checkmated Trump by threatening to close the House of Representatives to his State of the Union speech while strategizing against him on the shut-down–speaking politely all the time–she became the big winner this  year.

    She proved you don’t need testes to have more balls than President Short-fingers.

**
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

 

2 Comments »

  • John Maynard Krebs said:

    Something about ‘we have to pass this bill to find out what is in this bill’ strikes me as the most irresponsible statement made by a major politician in my life time, rather than ‘wielding all its inherent (political) powers with consummate skill’

  • Terry P. said:

    Yet another thing for Hillary to be jealous about!

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