Republicans have tried for years to make Ms. Pelosi’s very name a curse. President Trump and members of his party have called her, among many other things, the promoter of a “socialist agenda” and the “unhinged face” of her party, while others have labeled her as both the “San Francisco Democrat” that she is, and a “machine” politician from Baltimore, where her father and an older brother both served as mayor.
…This was back in a more parliamentary era, when no one considered the vagaries of voters in a national election to be a reason to kick out a perfectly able congressional leader.
…Rayburn, Albert and Tip O’Neill — who negotiated a key bill with President Ronald Reagan to preserve funding for Social Security — formed the ideal of the modern speakership. They shaped policy, worked with presidents from either party, molded their successors and tried to move the wheel forward. They sought compromise but also tried to bring about what progress had to be made. Above all, they respected the institution they led, the most thoroughly democratic part of our national government.
…Ms. Pelosi represents a restoration of that ideal, and she brings formidable talents and a legendary work ethic (back) to the job. In what was described as an “unbelievable marathon” to secure Obamacare, she personally took on the task of winning over 60 wavering Democrats. To win back the speakership this time, she swayed another 60 or so members of her caucus.
…At the same time, she regularly displays what have traditionally — wrongly — been considered male attributes in politics. She keeps her head when all about her are losing theirs and is adept at the deadpan gibe, usually delivered right between the ribs.
…Her current majority may squabble over economics, but it is unlikely to fight over social issues like immigration, gay rights or abortion.
The “San Francisco Democrat” and product of the “Baltimore machine” may be just the person to lead this new coalition. Asked on her first day back as speaker why she would not compromise on the border wall, Ms. Pelosi told the press, seemingly off the cuff: “A wall, in my view is an immorality,” before adding, “It’s the least effective way to protect the border and the most costly.”
There was the old Democratic liberalism at its best, idealistic and pragmatic at the same time: The wall is wrong because it’s wrong, plus it won’t work. It’s worth noting that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez cast her first vote in Congress to return Nancy Pelosi to the speakership.