She Was Worth the Trouble
Nancy Pelosi and the changing of the guard.
1. Nancy Pelosi
One of the many remarkable things about Nancy Pelosi is that she was the first woman to become speaker of the House and yet this historic accomplishment isn’t anywhere near the top of her resumé. She wasn’t a token or a barrier breaker. She was an uncommonly effective speaker.
She practiced good politics. The Democrats had a long, successful run under her leadership. She kept her caucus mostly in the center of where the Democratic party was. None of that is really up for debate. It’s the shared opinion of basically everyone who pays attention to this stuff seriously, on both sides of the aisle.
Democrats and Republicans differ in their value judgments about the merits of the policies Pelosi helped enact. But if the question is: Was Nancy Pelosi an effective leader and do you wish your party had someone like her? Well, there’s no difference of opinion on that.
And besides all that, Pelosi might be the single most self-aware politician of her era. In 2017, when some Democrats tried to unseat her, she explained, “I’m worth the trouble.”
Every single one of us should want that as our epitaph.
And she could be trouble. She was not cuddly or soft-focus. She was not a saint. My friend Andrew Ferguson dug through the archives to find some three instances of Pelosi behaving badly and there were certainly others.
But on the whole? She held her party together during four years of testing by an aspiring authoritarian. Because of Pelosi, the Democratic party remained a viable, healthy alternative in a time of tumult. On January 6, she was one of the leaders who helped guide Congress through crisis. She was always committed to opposing the Chinese regime. She was firm on support of Ukraine and opposition to Putin’s Russia. She delivered to Biden a number of bipartisan reform bills, with a narrow majority in a climate of intense polarization.
Nancy Pelosi is a patriot. And she was worth the trouble.
2. Generational Turnover
Pelosi’s retirement is the beginning of a generational turnover in the Democratic caucus.