Prologue: When Barack Obama was elected President of The United States in 2008, Nancy Pelosi was chosen by vote to become Speaker of The House. She was the first woman ever to occupy the position that is second in line to the presidency. Pelosi played a crucial role in Obama’s first term in office. Their greatest achievement was the successful passage of the Affordable Care Act( ACA) ,known to many as Obamacare. They worked together as a team to “bring health care to the American people” as she has often said.
Nancy Pelosi, representing the San Francisco, California district, has been the Democratic Minority Leader since the Republicans took over the House in the 2010 Midterms. She continued in that position when Obama served his second term from 2012 to 2016. Pelosi has also been a formidable fund raiser for House Democratic members across the country during every election campaign. She looks younger than her 78 years, trim in her fashionable suits and heels. She was on the cover of The New York Times Magazine section several weeks ago, wearing a red suit matched by red pumps. Her energy level is legendary on The Hill.
Raised in a political family, where her father and brother each served as Mayor of Baltimore , Maryland, Pelosi learned about politics and power from an early age. She is a formidable speaker with a quick wit as well as amazing depth of knowledge and experience. No political opponent fazes her as Donald Trump learned on Tuesday, December 12 at a meeting with her and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House.
Meeting becomes a public feud: The purpose of the meeting had been to discuss the president’s long promised border wall and to avoid a year end government shutdown. The president had invited reporters to be present. Pelosi and Schumer urged him to change to a private session after the initial pleasantries had been exchanged. Trump insisted they remain. Donald Trump and Mike Pence sat in chairs facing Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on couches in the Oval Office.
What followed was a fifteen minute televised exchange rather than a negotiating session between an experienced congressional leader and the president who is rarely challenged in public — especially by a woman. At the start, she referred to a possible “Trump shutdown” and he took the bait, saying that Senate Republicans could easily pass funding for the wall. Then, she said, “Okay. Then do it, then do it.” Next, he interrupted her and she interrupted him with a clear repeat of “Mr. Presidents”. He wagged his finger, calling her “Nancy” and suggested she was “in a situation when it’s not easy for her to talk right now.” Pelosi responded in a calm voice, “Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory.”
Chuck Schumer also took part in the back and forth. His comments goaded Trump into declaring, “I would be proud to shut down the government for border security.” Throughout, Mike Pence never entered the conversation. He sat silently and did not appear to shift in his position, causing a reporter later to describe him as “a potted plant.” Pelosi and Schumer repeated their wish for a private talk without the press, but Trump countered with, “It’s not bad. Nancy, it’s called Transparency.” Pelosi shot right back, “It’s not transparency when we are stipulating to a set of facts, and when we want to have a debate with you about saying we confront some of those facts without saying to the public this isn’t true.”
As the meeting continued, Pelosi appeared to be trying to explain how legislation works. Leaning forward and waving his hands, Trump cut her off, “No, We don’t have the votes, Nancy, because in the Senate we need 60 votes.” She replied, “The fact is that you could bring it up in the House. You set the tone. Legislating is what we do. You bring it up. You make your case. But there are no votes in the House, majority votes for a wall, no matter where you start.” At that point, Trump appeared exasperated and called an end to the presence of reporters and the television coverage.
Pelosi emerged from the White House looking triumphant in sunglasses and a swingy red coat. She returned to the Capitol to meet with Democratic colleagues behind closed doors. One aide in the room said later, “ She called the wall debate a manhood thing for him” . She also compared what happened to “a tinkle contest with a skunk” adding “I was trying to be the mom.”
Cable news showed live excerpts from the meeting through the evening and next day. Members of Congress were quoted: “ I think she gave as good as she got,” said Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, a close ally of the president. Eric Swalwell, Democratic Representative of California , raised the coming vote for speaker, “I think she sealed the deal.”
Sealing the deal: On Wednesday, the day after her triumphant meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, Pelosi announced she had reached an agreement with dissident Democrats. She would limit herself to four years as speaker, “a bridge to the next generation of House Leaders.” After she released her statement, seven of the leading holdouts released a joint statement, thanking her and saying they would support her for speaker.
Nancy Pelosi had demonstrated once more that she is the most formidable member of Congress. There are perilous times ahead in the next two years of the Donald Trump administration. She will use her skills to guide the Congress and the millions of American people to better and safer days ahead.
…………………………………………………………………………….. Joyce S. Anderson