Whether schooling our embarrassment of a president in the White House or visiting a Christmas tree dedicated to her and the new women members of the House of Representatives in front of Floriana restaurant on 17th Street in D.C., Nancy Pelosi is a class act.
Dito E. Sevilla, the master of ceremonies of all that goes on at Floriana and Dito’s Bar below the restaurant, outdid himself with this year’s Christmas tree. Those who know Dito understand his fascination with politics and his great sense of humor. This year he figured he would do his best to support the election of Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House by putting a huge picture of her atop the tree and calling it Pelostree. It seems a few of her staff who live in Dupont saw the tree and told the leader about it and she agreed to stop by and see it.
On her visit she was wearing the same coat and sunglasses she had on in the picture, which has now become iconic, of her and Sen. Chuck Schumer walking out of the White House after besting the president and forcing him to take responsibility for any government shut-down that may happen. She did joke saying the press had it wrong when they reported it as a red coat as it is actually orange. Orange or red with those sunglasses on she looked fierce.
She took the time to talk to the small crowd that had gathered speaking about how she has supported the LGBTQ+ community from the days she first came to Congress. She believes the fight to get government funding to combat HIV/AIDS galvanized the community and eventually led to the public being supportive of getting rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.
She spoke of what her hopes are when she takes back the Speaker’s gavel on Jan. 3. How many of the issues regarding voting rights, women’s rights and equal rights including issues of equality for the LGBTQ+ community will be worked on in the Judiciary Committee and how she believes they will have the support of the general population. She said she hopes to see the House as a Town Hall working on issues with input from communities across the nation and continuously gathering support. She believes working in an open and transparent way will allow the public to see what Democrats can do if they take back the White House and the Senate in 2020.
Pelosi is quite an amazing woman. She understands how to get things done. She grew up in a political family. Her father Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. was a Democratic Congressman from Maryland and then mayor of Baltimore and her brother Thomas D’Alesandro III was also mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971. After moving to California she immersed herself in the Democratic Party becoming chair of the California Democratic Party from 1981-1983. Pelosi won her seat in Congress in a special election after Congresswoman Sala Burton became ill and she took office in June 1987.
From day one in Congress Pelosi has been a fighter for progressive causes. Her abilities were quickly recognized and she served on the Appropriations and Intelligence committees. In 2001 she was elected by her fellow Democrats as House Minority Whip, the second in leadership to Dick Gephardt who was Minority Leader. When he resigned that post to run his losing fight for the Democratic nomination in 2002 she was elected Minority Leader, the first woman to lead a major party in the House. When Democrats took over the House in 2007 she was elected Speaker, again a first for a woman.
Pelosi is credited by many, including President Obama, for being the person most responsible for passing the Affordable Care Act in the House. She understood how to count votes and what was needed to keep Democrats together, which has only become more difficult over the years.
Her ability has never been on display more than it has since the recent elections as she fought and apparently guaranteed she will be the next Speaker of the House. If anyone was still questioning how effective she will be her recent visit to the White House laid any last minute reservations to rest. She clearly got the better of the president and did it in her inimitable way, never raising her voice but schooling him in reality and calling him out for his lack of facts and his inability to accept the power she will have as the next Speaker. He clearly didn’t know what hit him. While speaking at Floriana she said she especially enjoyed the cartoon that had Trump running into a wall and the wall was labeled Pelosi.
We can be assured the next Speaker of the House is a woman of the people who will make sure the people’s business actually gets done in the House.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.