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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Nancy Pelosi’s Detractors

When you type the words, “Why is Nancy Pelosi” into Google, the search engine offers to complete your question with three popular queries:

  1. Why is Nancy Pelosi so stupid?
  2. Why is Nancy Pelosi so powerful?
  3. Why is Nancy Pelosi bad?

Every national politicians has his or her share of critics, but Nancy Pelosi seems to inspire a special kind of agitation from her detractors. This is a point highlighted in a new profile of the Speaker in New York Magazine:

To conservatives, she’s the devil: “Mussolini in a skirt,” “Nancy Botox,” a “domestic enemy of the Constitution.” In August, when she and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote a USA Today editorial calling town-hall shouters “un-American” for stifling national debate, a radio host said he’d like to punch her in the face; Joe the Plumber wanted to “beat the living tar” out of her; and Glenn Beck brought out a cardboard cutout of her likeness, then pretended to drink wine alongside it: “I wanted to thank you for having me over here in wine country,” he cackled. “By the way, I put poison in your—no, I look forward to all the policy discussions we’re supposed to have. You know, on health care, energy reform, and the economy. Hey, is that Sean Penn over there?” She’s a high-handed lady who needs to be “put … in her place,” as the National Republican Congressional Committee said when she questioned General McChrystal’s advice on Afghanistan. “It’s really sad. They really don’t understand how inappropriate that is,” Pelosi shot back, smirking a little and trailing a hand in the air. “That language is something I haven’t even heard in decades.”

Nancy Pelosi is occasionally called the most hated woman in America, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that much of that hatred seems to stem from the fact that she is a woman. Harry Reid, for instance, is the victim of similar approval ratings, but his enemies don’t attack him with the same sort of vitriol. Just type the phrase, “Why is Harry Reid” into Google — you get no suggested completion to your query at all.
When she isn’t being threatened by conservatives, Pelosi often escapes national attention altogether. That’s a shame, because in terms of accomplishment, it’s hard to imagine how she as Speaker could be more effective. She’s raised $155 million for the DCCC since 2002 and helped to orchestrate the new Democratic majority in Congress. Of course, from the floor, she’s been a champion for major increases in college aid and pay for veterans, upping the minimum wage, climate change, and now, health care.
That’s leadership we as Democrats can be proud of.

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