May 15th, 2009

The evolution of Queen Nancy

Unless you’ve been on another planet recently, you are probably aware of the current brouhaha over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; what she knew about waterboarding and when, and just who’s the biggest liar.

I’d call Pelosi a polarizing figure, except that I’ve noticed that even her defenders aren’t really all that keen on her. Her strangely offputting affect, her tense and confused body language (even before this incident), have made it easy for epithets such as “wicked witch” and “Queen Nancy” to come trippingly to the tongue of detractors.

So I wondered how it was that this particularly uncharismatic woman got her start in politics. This Wiki entry describes some of Pelosi’s background, and it’s an interesting tale.

Born to a family deeply involved in Democratic power and politics, she was the daughter of a Congressman from Maryland and mayor of Baltimore, and her brother was also a two-term mayor of that city. Early on, Pelosi interned for Senator Daniel Brewster, a Maryland Democrat. It was there that she met fellow intern, and later colleague and rival, Steny Hoyer.

Pelosi married a San Francisco man and moved to that city, where her brother-in-law was involved in local politics as well. It was perhaps inevitable that, during the time Pelosi was raising her five children, she would get involved in the local Democratic Party:

She was elected as party chairwoman for Northern California on January 30, 1977. She later joined forces with one of the leaders of the California Democratic Party, 5th District Congressman Phillip Burton. In 1987, after her youngest child became a high school senior, she decided to run for political office.

In a sense, the well-connected Pelosi was actually annointed rather than elected. Here’s the story, according to Wiki:

Phillip Burton died in 1983 and was succeeded by his wife, Sala. In late 1986, Sala became ill with cancer and decided not to run for reelection in 1988. She picked Pelosi as her designated successor, guaranteeing her the support of the Burtons’ contacts. Sala died on February 1, 1987, just a month after being sworn in for a second full term. Pelosi won the special election to succeed her, narrowly defeating San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt on April 7, 1987, then easily defeating Republican candidate Harriet Ross on June 2, 1987; Pelosi took office a week later. She has the distinction of contributing the most among members of Congress to other congressional campaigns because she is in a safe district and does not need the campaign funds.

Therein lies a hint of Pelosi’s power: once she was picked by Sala, she was home free, with nearly-guaranteed reelection for as long as she wanted it (her district has a grand total of 13% registered Republicans). She also was in a position to reward those who cooperated with and supported her, because of her ability to donate funds to them.

I don’t pretend to have the inside scoop on how Pelosi rose to power within the House. Perhaps a full autobiography (such as this) would tell, but I haven’t read one. However, it’s clear from this article that initially it was due to her remarkable fundraising abilities, and that later she showed a flair for organizing the defeated Democrats during the Bush presidency, giving them the notion they could win back Congress and then coming up with the strategy to do so.

So Pelosi’s rise has been marked by political savvy, beginning in childhood and developed during an entire lifetime in Democrat politics. She may not be a great intellect, but until now she’s been a genius at reviving her party and choosing issues that will rally voters to its side. Her lack of personal charisma has not mattered at all: designated as successor by a mentor, running in a completely safe district, she hasn’t needed it.

In taking on the CIA, has Pelosi finally gained an enemy more formidable than the Republican Party—or Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, her old colleague who has remained her nemesis and might be waiting in the wings? (Wiki states that “Pelosi and Hoyer had a somewhat frosty relationship dating back to 2001, when they ran against each other for minority whip.”)

All I can say is that time will tell. A month ago no one would have predicted that the decision to release the “torture memos” would backfire on Pelosi in this way, and no one can predict the final outcome of this intriguing set of circumstances.

[ADDENDUM: Now Panetta draws a line in the sand.]

{ADDENDUM II: Back in 2002, Jim Miller saw Pelosi as one in a long line of machine politicians. I concur.]

28 Responses to “The evolution of Queen Nancy”

  1. OlderandWheezier Says:

    Best comment I’ve seen since yesterday likens her performance in the presser yesterday to Capt. Queeg’s. Isn’t is also interesting how the CIA, so above any reproach a couple of years ago during the Plame debacle, has suddenly become a pack of congenital liars? (as William Safire once described HRC – at least his accusation had merit.)

  2. Weary_G Says:

    I find Hoyer’s disavowel less dramatic than you suggest, as he seems to be backing the notion that the whole issue is distracting from the real issue, which is ‘torture’ only when the Bush Administration is doing it.

    However, you are right that Pelosi must REALLY have these guys by their you-know-whats if Hoyer can assert this delusional position publicly.

    How can he NOT get the fact that if you are going to accuse the CIA and Bush administration of torture, and thus criminal behaviour, the fact the Pelosi and other Dems knew about makes them just as guilty?

    It is called conspiracy, genius, and if Pelosi and Co knew about what they themselves call a crime, they were part of what was done!

    Be a man, Hoyer, and take a true stand!

  3. Weary_G Says:

    Okay, this is twice where I screwed up using the italics function. My apologies…

  4. Paul Gordon Says:

    I put this in an earlier thread, but it seems more appropriate here. I’ve expanded the quote because Pelosi’s false charge could be a felony, and maybe make it impossible to sweep under the rug.

    AJStrata has a good piece on this…

    Truth Commission’s First Victim: Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
    “In a lame attempt to hide her admissions of lying, she tries to charge the CIA with a serious crime: lying to Congress. It is also a crime to make a false charge in order to cover up a one’s acts.By making the charge the CIA lied she has opened herself up to proving this charge. She has opened the door to a full investigation”.

  5. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    My correspondence with liberal relatives suggests that this is all just a partisan Republican attack. All scandals about Democrats are just partisan Republican attacks. The CIA must be lying to cover its butt, but the CIA was generally truthful during the Bush Administration.

    Always keep in mind what we are up against with 30% of the electorate here: no information from any source will defeat the narrative of “four legs good, two legs bad.” If communists can continue to believe in Stalin after his death, Democrats can certainly believe in any milk-and-water socialist we Americans can put up.

  6. physicsguy Says:

    I had to wait until late last night to see Pelosi’s performance. I almost, not quite though, became embarrassed for her. She was so contrived, and incoherent, that it comfirmed my previous notion that the woman is a can short of a six pack.

  7. dane Says:

    Most of us learned when we were young that when you lie it’s tough to keep your story straight over time. Pelosi is on the Ed Sullivan Show and the plates are beginning to fall. Couldn’t happen to a nice person.

  8. dane Says:

    Nicer person

  9. FredHjr Says:

    You forgot to add this fact about her. At one time she was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, the party founded by Michael Harrington. Obonga once belonged to that party, and then later an offshoot of it, called The New Party. Pelosi resigned from the Democratic Socialists when she was running for House Minority Leader.

    The fact that she is always a shoo-in for being re-elected every four years owes to more than just the paucity of Republicans in her district. Her district approves of her socialist leanings. I highly doubt that a well-funded more moderate or even conservative Democrat running against her would win. It says a LOT about her district, folks.

    BTW, Steny Hoyer is not a nice guy either. I would rather that Pelosi remain in her sinecure, because she will provide lots of entertainment and she will show dopey Americans exactly what they voted for. Hoyer will try to hide it more, and given how stupid and somnolent so many voters are Hoyer’s style will prolong the nation’s agony.

    I’m a big believer in getting all out there. Right out front and center for the world to see. People need to face the music. Votes and elections have consequences and it’s high time for people to face reality.

  10. J. L. Says:

    FredHjr Says:

    BTW, Steny Hoyer is not a nice guy either. I would rather that Pelosi remain in her sinecure, because she will provide lots of entertainment and she will show dopey Americans exactly what they voted for. Hoyer will try to hide it more, and given how stupid and somnolent so many voters are Hoyer’s style will prolong the nation’s agony.

    I must admit that this thought has occurred to me too. I was actually going to write a somewhat mean spirited post to that effect and appened it to Neo’s previous entry about Pelosi. I had written that Pelosi was “the gift that kept on giving,” and that maybe we should “let her simmer” a little longer before “sticking the knife in” and declaring her “done.” But then, it occurred ot me that my previous posting right before that was about how mean spirited politics was getting, and it would be a bit contradictory for me to follow that with a “hit” post. So, I didnt submit it.

    But, what the heck…. you get my drift.

    What amazes me about Pelosi is that someone with such a “tin ear” for politics (as she appears to have) could actually have made it so far. In some ways, Im actually impressed. What most bothers me about her is that she resembles the type of leftisys I’ve met who are so sure they are right that they dont actually have to reason through their views. They are, as they see it, the progressives, and, by definition, theyre the ones who are doing good and making the world better. No need to think further. Pelosi, in that same manner, has gotten to belive that the entire American public will so easily swallow the leftist mentality as her fans at some San Francisco coffeeshop.

  11. br549 Says:

    Strangely, I’m enjoying this. Coupled with Obama’s final admission that the debt load is unsustainable (reeeeeally?) is just making my day.

  12. Artfldgr Says:

    Next: People discover evil (again)

  13. expat Says:

    Hoyer is not going to go after Pelosi openly because she’s doing a fine job of wrecking herself. He has been more realistic (and, I suspect, far more knowledgeable–not that that would be hard) on national security issues, which may be a better fit with the positions Obama currently has been forced to take. As the economy turns public opinion away from the fringe left issues that Pelosi loves, he may get support from less radical Dems. They already ignored Pelosi’s endorsement of Murtha for Whip and elected Hoyer. I bet when Murtha goes under the bus for corruption, Hoyer will be more than willing to use that endorsement to at least hang Nancy out of the bus window.

  14. Gray Says:

    I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she was a dimwit–in waaaaaaay over her head during her trip to Iraq when she asked a very young, Junior Enlisted female 96B (Intell Analyst) if “the Bush Administration cherry-picked intell to go to war.”

    That’s the equivalent of asking an inner city cop if the Supreme Court ruled correctly in the “Boumedienne” case.

    To her credit, the young Specialist said: “I don’t know, Ma’am.” and then gave Pelosi a f’ed up look.

  15. Artfldgr Says:

    Everyone is just going to let her keep digging now that she has made such a nice hole. though for some reason when i think of our near future i keep seeing the crabs in the bucket. even if one were able to escape the fate, the others would pull them back in.

  16. someone-else Says:

    “What amazes me about Pelosi is that someone with such a “tin ear” for politics (as she appears to have) could actually have made it so far.”

    It doesn’t really me – first off as others have noted she represents her district near perfect – they love her. Re-election in the hosue is a VERY local thing, the ideas that even many of the national dems are now getting semi-panicy over are her constituents bread and butter beliefs.

    As was said her rise had much to do with fund raising – of which she is really good at (people like Soros and several of the multi-million dollar donators are, like her constituents fully 100% behind what she says and thinks).

    Secondly she rose a good deal on opposition politics – she was, and really still is, one of the more outspoken leaders of the “Bush McHitler” crowd which is currently dominating the democratic party. Few thought about what her non-opposition politics are and as they find out are panicking. That is the problem with picking people on what they are not instead of what they are (which is also how both Obama and McCain were largely picked).

    As to how she made Speaker, well again we look at the opposition politics. That was what energized the party, and to a large extent still does. Any here who followed it closely when she was being elected to the position it was a race to see who hated Bush and his administration more – she is an obvious winner here.

    Finally she is ruthless and understand democratic politics *extremely* well.

    What we are seeing here is her breaking down as Democratic politics (despite what they want to believe) is not shared amongst very many people. Even many dems are not comfortable with it, though they do defend it (and you can see their need to believe in many of their defenses). Actions such as this are what got her to where she is and she figures it will continue to work – I think Obama is having some of the same pains, however I think he is flexible enough to “learn” (as he did with releasing the pictures – she will almost never see how that is going to play on a national level).

  17. davidt Says:

    I wonder if Jane Harmon is behind some of the CIA leaks. She was pretty angry over Pelosi not giving her the Chair of the House Intelligence Commitee. Harmon must have contacts within the CIA after her years on the Intell Commitee, and could probably engineer some leakage.

  18. Hong Says:

    It gets better and better. Nancy P is backtracking even further claiming she didn’t mean the CIA in her press conference but rather the Bush Administration. Pretty confounding since the reporter asked her a question if the CIA was lying and she answered “Yes!”

  19. Artfldgr Says:

    Oh how i hope all this is an overshoot recovery game. in that as long as the game was going on, everything will keep moving their way.. the problem being most who are on the left tend to displace the facts of what their side does onto the other side. so the more bad their side does the more they hate the opposite side. as i said, this is what happens in inverted rule and destabilization is inversion of the current system. any other direction and the people would have to consider the argument. but 180 degrees the same symetry exists and so they dont realize they are walking the wrong way.

    since cleaning house would be painful and would show that the people would not be in power, they have to make cleaning house less painful than something else. and so the reason that things are going this far without a lot of opposition is that they are going to let the one side do what they want without moderation of the side that gets the blame.

    when i have an issue. i sometimes let the issue ride for a long long time while making small comments as to it. I am VERY patient. at some point it reaches a head and of course there is some form of argument as to who is to blame or why or what. then i just say, its been going on for several years now, and so there are no more excuses or explanations.

    the point is that rather than face things while they are ambiguous, and the games that happen there are not easily assailable. but remove your pressure, concede the territory, remove the ambiguity, show who causes the pain. then rather have a split force behind you, you will have a unified point from which to work in which cleaning house is possibe because its no longer a painful thing but a less painful thing.

    wishful thinking…

  20. nyomythus Says:

    This interview with ABC and Newt Gingrich is very good.

    I’ve thought for a long time that Newt would make a great President. Get ’em before he’s too old.

  21. Oldflyer Says:

    I believe that Pelosi’s big problem now is the WH. She has been upstaging the “Big O” a little bit all along; now she has become a major distraction. She is actually cutting into his face time with the media. Cannot continue.

    This isn’t original with me; but it is curious and a little sad to read that the CIA leaking is now a good thing because they are leaking on the other guys. CIA leaking is never a good thing.

  22. FredHjr Says:

    I think that people, including me, who, in order to cope with the results of the election and needing to keep our sanity, laugh at her need to get a grip on the serious side of this. She is where she is because of the qualities she possesses. And she perfectly represents the Democratic Party right now. There is s certain logic to it all, and that chain of logic goes back to George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Obonga also owes fealty to it. They all do.

    It is a hardened, intractable position. Notice that two days ago, Gen. Odierno had prevailed upon Obonga to relent about releasing the tapes and photos of the waterboarding. Then, yesterday, the President backtracked on it and now says he will delay the release. Imagine being a fly on the wall in Odierno’s office at CENTCOM?

    I rest my case. Obonga finally succumbed to pressure from his real master – and it was neither the U.S. military nor his oath of office.

    God save our nation from calamity before this is all over. But maybe He won’t, since God does have a history of letting humanity face the consequences of its own sloth and malice.

    Somewhere on a guarded estate on the island of Curacao Georgy Soros is smiling that Cheshire Cat smile.

  23. grackle Says:

    CIA leaking is never a good thing.

    I feel the same way. The leaks have let her know what the evidence against her will look like if it ever comes down to some kind of legal process, such as a hearing before a committee. The correct response from the CIA is the public statement by Panetta, which was scathing in its contempt for Nancy P.

    The link by nyomythus is nice, Gingrich is very good in debate. By all means let’s have a national debate on this issue. Priceless, especially the interviewer being absolutely blown away by the quick-thinking Gingrich. Too bad there wasn’t a video for more of an impact.

    The Obama team must be extremely chagrined at what they have unleashed. It must be that you get ‘tone-deaf’ when you’ve had nothing but praise from the MSM.

  24. Artfldgr Says:

    she is now starting to back peddle faster than a drunk clown falling backwards on a unicycle!!!

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has backed down slightly in her fight with the CIA, saying that she really meant only to criticize the Bush administration rather than career officials.

    “My criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe,” Pelosi said in a statement.

    “As you are aware, Watson, there is no one who knows the higher criminal world of London so well as I do. For years past I have continually been conscious of some power behind the malefactor, some deep organizing power which forever stands in the way of the law, and throws its shield over the wrong-doer. Again and again in cases of the most varying sorts — forgery cases, robberies, murders — I have felt the presence of this force, and I have deduced its action in many of those undiscovered crimes in which I have not been personally consulted. For years I have endeavored to break through the veil which shrouded it, and at last the time came when I seized my thread and followed it, until it led me, after a thousand cunning windings, to ex-Professor Moriarty of mathematical celebrity.”

    Sherlock Holmes, in “The Final Problem”


  25. Artfldgr Says:

    “She is the Napoleon of crime, FredHjr. She is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. She is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. She has a brain of the first order. She sits motionless, like a spider in the center of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and she knows well every quiver of each of them. She does little herself. She only plans. But her agents are numerous and splendidly organized. Is there a crime to be done, a paper to be abstracted, we will say, a house to be rifled, a man to be removed — the word is passed to the “Professor”, the matter is organized and carried out. The agent may be caught. In that case money is found for his bail or his defence. But the central power which uses the agent is never caught — never so much as suspected.” Sherlock Holmes, in “The Final Problem”

    couldnt resist…

  26. huxley Says:

    Nice job, someone-else!

  27. Baklava Says:

    There is a grand total of 13% Republicans because all the smart people are leaving…..

    Only the felons, illegal immigrants, free loaders (wanting college for free) and hardcore leftists are left as the NORMAL people can’t take the assault on their pocket book to pay for that crap.

  28. neo-neocon Says:

    Baklava: your comment ties in nicely with one of today’s posts. As does the link you offered.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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