A send-off for St. San Fran Nan

"Hello, I must be going.  I cannot stay.  I came to say I must be going.  I'm glad I came, but just the same I must be going."  So sang Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers.

Groucho might as well have been pre-reminiscing about the career of San Francisco's darling, the inimitable Nancy Patricia (née D'Alesandro) Pelosi, who has wielded the gavel (off and on) of the House of Representatives for nearly 20 years.  First she wasn't, then she was, and then not, and finally again speaker of that "august" body that resembles a watering hole for malevolent power brokers.

That aside, Pelosi has proven herself to be a mistress of shepherding ideological legislation through the Congress by using a masterful mixture of procedural knowledge, political savvy, and good old-fashioned arm-twisting of her members over the years.

Perhaps her greatest, certainly the most recent, opposition party foe was and is Donald J. Trump, who dared to stand up to her and repeatedly attempted to knock her off balance on the tower that she had laboriously built for herself.  Their feuding was constant and public.  While she presided over two impeachment hearings, the visual we will all remember is her ripping up Trump's third State of the Union speech on camera while his back was turned.  To many of us on the right, this was not only seamy, but also a clear signal that Pelosi had fallen off her perch.  It showed her true colors as a nasty, power-absorbed woman instead of the statesman she had long pretended to be.  We would be convinced of it when she orchestrated a hit squad that called itself the "United States House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol."

To her credit, during her long years as speaker, she was able to rally her troops by ruling with an iron hand until it became clear that her stranglehold on power was insufficient to keep certain members in line...and quiet.  I'm referring to "The Squad," four über-radical Progressives (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan) who were way out there in a political galaxy far, far away, orbiting even her own constituents in that most radical of bastions, California's 12th Congressional District.  To be sure, the Squad gave Ms. Pelosi a D.C.-sized case of agità, but they also helped her in her quest to circle the wagons of that extreme group of global resetters that the Dems needed to retain absolute power in the House.

Being an old dog, Pelosi had "been there and done that" with renegade members of her party before, but this time, they were vocal — too vocal for her.  But she wouldn't take their bait.  Instead of confronting them openly, she worked her levers of power behind the scenes and let them rise or fall in their own elections.  They all rose, winning back their seats.

She did get some pushback on occasion for her stance on a few key issues, abortion being one of them (as did her boss, Joe Biden) from the Catholic hierarchy locally.  In May of this year, her bishop, Salvatore Cordileone, barred her receiving Communion for her pro-abortion stance, but that did not deter her from seeking support from a "higher power" (Cordileone's boss, Pope Francis) when the pope gave her Communion a month later in the Vatican.

Nancy was not a woman to trifled with even by the Church that she professes to love so much.  When she perceived that her faith (or anything else, for that matter) was in question by reporters, she would give them her Italianate backhand in a dismissive gesture, accompanied by an evil eye.  She would dispatch them to Hades.  This was in full view in a press conference in December of 2019, when she was asked about her feelings about Donald Trump.  Rising to her full height, she stared down the reporter and said, "Don't mess with me."  This is a woman who obviously has two books firmly velcroed to her bed table: Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Mario Puzo's The Godfather.

The right may be rejoicing now at Pelosi's news to step down from a speaker's contest, but make no mistake: Pelosi is not gone, nor will she be forgotten.  As is usually the case, Democrats who have stood their post and defended the party will be rewarded, and she will probably land a plum position like ambassador to the Holy See, taking Amb. Joe Donnelly's place.

This job would be the perfect venue from which she could give the ultimate back of her hand to her bishop and to all those who've wronged her since her ascendency to national office.  Nancy Patricia Pelosi's revenge is embodied in five words: living to fight another day.  And her revenge is certainly served cold — cold as the $12/pint Jeni's ice cream that fills her $24,000 freezer.  Pax Domini, Nan.

Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat who lived and worked in 30 countries for 25 years during the Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush administrations.  He is the author of twelve books, six of which are on American politics, and has written over 1,300 articles on politics, economics, and social trends.  He operates a political news story aggregator website: www.projectpushback.com.  He can be reached at stephan@stephanhelgesen.com.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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