This is a tale of two women — and also one more, me, whose head and heart are in conflict because of them.
Often just mentioning the names of Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren provokes strong reactions both from their legions of great admirers and the equally large numbers of people who are not fans. Then-candidate Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans made Pelosi a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. She became a particular target as an avowed liberal and because of her pivotal role in pushing through the Affordable Care Act.
The success for Democrats in the recent midterm elections has brought another battle for her — this time an inter-party battle for speaker of the House in January. Massachusetts' own Congressman Seth Moulton publicly opposed her retaking her former role, even as it became clear that he didn’t have the votes to support the “fresh new leadership” he and others proposed. In the end, she beat back the "Never Nancy" challengers with the skilled horse trading she’s honed in three decades on the Hill. It’s too bad that Democrats allowed her leadership quest to sink into a sexist personality battle. At least that’s what I heard in the “fresh and new” descriptors. I don’t know why people can’t accept what former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro said best: “Some leaders are born women.”
Certainly, nobody’s even thinking about giving the boot to Pelosi’s Republican counterpart — that charismatic fresh new leader, the 76-year-old Mitch McConnell. Sarcasm intentional. He who famously shut down Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as she read a letter by civil rights icon Coretta Scott King. You remember that he said he had tried to be polite, but “nevertheless, she persisted.”
Warren’s persistence has paid off in positioning her as the president’s most well-known critic, one who is not afraid to return the often-racist attacks while continuing to press forward on issues like protecting the constitution and consumers’ financial well-being. This former professor has persisted admirably on all of our behalves. But as I watch her test the waters for a potential presidential run, I am less than enthused. On the one hand, I’d like to see another strong woman candidate face off against President Trump. I just don’t want that woman to be Warren. I know I’m risking going to “that special place in hell” former Secretary of State Madeline Albright says is “reserved for women who don’t support other women.” But, I also see Warren’s contribution, her fearless voice in the Senate, as much too valuable to lose.
Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley said she supported Pelosi’s winning nomination for House speaker because, “who is in the formal leadership role matters.” She’s right. Don’t misunderstand: It’s past time for the Dems who’ve long been in top positions to prepare to pass the baton to a new generation. But, based on skill, not age or sex. Instead, I want Pelosi’s political challengers to demand that she immediately start grooming potential successors. But, right now Pelosi, with her unmatched skills as a rainmaker and deal closer, deserves the gavel.