Farewell To Our First Female Speaker


The four-year reign of Nancy Pelosi, first female Speaker of the House, is now over. Thanks in part to successful Republican scapegoating and caricature, she leaves less popular with the American public than ever. But we still love her.

Because she was a woman, because she was from San Francisco, because she actually tried to get things done, she was maligned by Republicans — and according to a recent poll showing 58 percent of Americans view her unfavorably, people believed them. That’s compared to her 19 percent unfavorable rating in 2006.

Tea Partiers openly said that “firing” Pelosi helped drive their efforts in the House. Obama staying above the fray and her steely determination to pass bills also made her a target. As Monica Potts points out in The American Prospect, the vitriol against Pelosi was rather different from what liberals aimed at Newt Gingrich in his time as Speaker:

The tone, of course, is different. Pelosi is arrogant, Pelosi is matriarchal, Pelosi is incompetent: The Tea Partiers called her “Nanny Nancy.” Those are descriptions its impossible to not see influenced by her gender. But in the end, the Tea Party probably hates her most for the same reasons liberals will remember her service as speaker fondly. She corralled votes for difficult legislation, and got things done.

For her work in passing health care reform, she was called “the most powerful woman in American history,” and “Lyndon Johnson in a skirt.” As Jonathan Cohn reminded us last night,

[Pelosi] presided over a flurry of legislative progress unmatched in recent times. She delivered financial reform. The Recovery Act. A student lending overhaul. Health care reform. And those are just the big items. Had the Senate gone along, she could have accomplished even more for the country, including a larger stimulus that might have improved the economy and given her party a chance of holding onto the House.

We may hope she won’t be the last woman in that powerful position, but decreasing female representation in Congress isn’t upping the odds.

Pelosi’s National Popularity Plummets As Elections Loom [WP]
The End Of The Pelosi House [TNR]
The Target On Pelosi’s Back [TAPPED/American Prospect]

Earlier: The Pelosi Appreciation Round Will Not Be Soured By A Few Bad Apples

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