The non-farewell speech Nancy Pelosi gave Thursday summed up the quintessence of her storied career.
The outgoing speaker of the House of Representatives had appeared spotless as always. She wore white, the color of the suffragette movement, of which Pelosi was a legate and a tremendous champion.
She dutifully read from prepared remarks filled with the typical exhortations and platitudes—a reference to the “Stars and Banner,” a paean to the Capitol and its moonlit dome at night—that spice up her often uninspiring speeches.
Above all, she was clear-eyed and unsentimental, her voice only trembling briefly when Pelosi mentioned her husband Paul, who is still recovering from an attack by a hammer-wielding assailant who invaded the couple’s San Francisco home on a mission of hatred and political revenge.
Pelosi’s great strength has never been that of a public speaker. Rather, it’s the skills that brought her to Speakership: tremendous political savvy, a mastery of the legislative process, a lack of blind ideology, and — last but not least — the ability to count votes, read a room, and know when it’s Time to call the vote and time to move on.
Pelosi had given her word four years ago that she would serve no more than two additional terms on the speakership, when her hold on the Democratic faction was shaky under pressure from ambitious younger members.
That time expires in January, and the Democrats’ far better-than-expected showing in last week’s midterm elections gave her an elegant way to keep her word. She knew her departure was expected, and now she can say goodbye, and under no dark cloud.
Her decision to remain in Congress and fall back into the ranks of Democratic members came as a surprise, although Pelosi — the first speaker in history and one of the most accomplished to ever swing the gavel — will clearly not be a typical backbench.
President Biden and Pelosi’s Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, made it clear that she wants to stay, and she will no doubt be available to those two and whoever takes her place as Democratic Group leader.
(Clever until last, it seemed no coincidence that Pelosi’s announcement coincided with — and severely overshadowed — Republican Day 1, as the waiting majority and announcement that the new GOP majority would open an investigation into the business dealings of Biden and his family would initiate .)
If there is disappointment – and no one dares speak it out loud – it is among the ranks of San Francisco politicians who have been quietly waiting for the day when Pelosi would step aside. It’s not a function of disrespect; on the contrary, Pelosi is a beloved and admired institution in the city, having represented her in Congress for well over three decades.
Rather, it is the fact that Pelosi has been in office for so long and generations of potential successors have aged and retired from public life, their hopes burgeoning over their tenure.
Those eyeing the congressional seat—the only one San Francisco has to offer—have at least two more years to wait. Pelosi was re-elected for the 18th time last week with 84% support. While it’s hard to imagine, it’s not impossible to see Pelosi running again in 2024 at the age of 84 and easily ushered into a 19th term.
Four years ago, Pelosi indulged in a rare discussion about her political future over an espresso at a downtown Miami bistro. She is severely allergic to the subject, a dislike shared by her congressional staffers and others close to the speaker.
But on this sunny day, as she campaigned for a midterm election that would bring Democrats back to power and put Pelosi back on top, she was unusually open to the discussion.
“I see myself as a transitional figure,” Pelosi said in an interview, in which she expressed her characteristic confidence in victory and reclaimed the speaker’s gavel. “I’m busy. books for writing; Places where you should go; Loving grandchildren first.”
Pelosi named those grandchildren in a proud reverie on Thursday as she spoke of the home’s well. But they must wait for their undivided attention. So do all the books she wants to write.
Pelosi isn’t done with Congress yet.
https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-11-17/democrat-nancy-pelosi-to-step-down-from-house-leadership What Pelosi’s speech resigning from leadership role tells us about her