BEIRUT: With her swearing in for the second time last Thursday to Speaker of the US House of Representatives, after an eight-year political exile, Nancy Pelosi, heir to an Italian-American political dynasty, becomes not only the powerful chief of the Democratic caucus but also by stipulation of the US Constitution is once again third in-line of succession for the US Presidency.
“I am particularly proud to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years of women winning the right to vote, (and) as we serve with more than 100 women in the House of Representatives – the highest number in history,” Pelosi said from the podium after her swearing-in last week.
Continuing, she said, “Here in spirit are my mother and father and my brother Tommy, who taught us through their example that public service is a noble calling, and that we should serve with our hearts full of love – and that America’s heart is full of love.
"In that spirit, let me especially thank my constituents in San Francisco, who have entrusted me to represent them in Congress in the spirit of Saint Francis, our patron saint – whose song of Saint Francis is our anthem: 'Lord, make me a channel of thy peace' – as we beautifully sang in church this morning.”
The latter comments were in keeping with Pelosi devout Catholicism.
Pelosi was born in Baltimore to an Italian-American family, the youngest of six children of Annunciata M. "Nancy" D'Alesandro (née Lombardi) and Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., who was a Democratic Congressman from Maryland and a Mayor of Baltimore. Pelosi's brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, also a Democrat, was Mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971.
She graduated from the Institute of Notre Dame, a Catholic all-girls high school in Baltimore. In 1962, she graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. Pelosi interned for Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland) in the 1960s alongside future House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Already by her collegiate years, she had lived an entire political lifetime, politicking for her father, and brother, mingling with movers-and-shakers of all ranks, and among other early inspirational events, attended the 1961 inaugural of John F. Kennedy, as President, who said famously, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
Moving to the West Coast as a young married, the now Nancy (nee D’Alesandro) Pelosi, worked in the lower ranks of the Democratic party, organizing events, fundraisers, and assisting senior Democrats to get elected. She made an impression.
When a prominent Democrat from San Francisco passed away she was elected in a special election. Pelosi continued to make her mark.
Pelosi was elected to the speakerships for the first time in 2007 and noted memorably:
“This is a historic moment – for the Congress, and for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working.”
She added, “.....we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and granddaughters, today, we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them.”
On the Hill, Pelosi was a major opponent of the Iraq War as well as the Bush Administration 2005 attempt to privatize Social Security.
During her first speakership, she was instrumental in the passage of many landmark bills, including the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act along with the American Recovery and Reinvestment act concurrent with Obama taking power after the 2008 crash and subsequent recession, and the 2010 Tax Relief Act.
That and other key issues she has backed has sometimes cast her as a progressive bogeyman to the Republican hard right, and it is in such an oppositional role she and the senior senator from New York, Charles “Chuck” Schumer now take on President Trump over his insistence of billions in dollars for a border wall and the subsequent government closure.
She has already shown starting with "Wall" negotiations that she will not roll over for President Trump on this issue and others, and that the “Dealmaker” will find himself backed into a corner of his own making.
In an oval office scene, just prior to Christmas, reminiscent of the children’s tale “The Emperor Has No Clothes” she politely but firmly called out Trump on his lying and fear-mongering on immigration and subsequently along with her fellow Democrats hung the government closure around the President’s neck. And, as the NYT noted “mocked his (the) planned border wall as a ‘beaded curtain’ and a ‘manhood thing,’” for the embattled chief of state.
In a brief pause before all the partisan battle once again overtook Washington, the new Speaker turned the opening of the Congress last week into a celebration of bipartisanship, immigration, the youth and diversity of her own party, and was surrounded by her children and many grandchildren after taking the oath.
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