Nancy Pelosi Untethered: Former Speaker Revels in Newfound Freedom
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) felt that sense of tension, or agita as her Italian family might say, the moment she walked into the massive hotel — that burden, from helping lead so many policy retreats here.
“You don’t have any responsibilities,” the former speaker told herself, attending the annual getaway for House Democrats as a congressional commoner for the first time in more than 20 years. As Biden administration officials gave policy presentations on Wednesday, Pelosi said she whispered a message to those at her table: “If you don’t like your pillow, it’s not my fault. If you don’t like the menu, I don’t care. I don’t even care.”
That’s not entirely true, because the longest-serving House Democratic leader of the past 60 years still cares deeply about her caucus’s future. And Pelosi, 82, is as busy as she’s ever been, but just in a much different way than in the last two decades.
Veterans of her team have labeled this new period “Pelosi 3.0,” after a career that saw a 15-year climb to the highest ranks of leadership, then two decades at the top, and now this next phase where she has begun to serve as something akin to roving ambassador for the Democratic Party.
She’s not in charge of anything, has no real responsibilities in the House other than casting votes (she declined to take any committee assignments), yet she maintains a level of influence that goes well beyond her rank-and-file status. Inside the Capitol, Pelosi has taken up a mentoring role: not to the trio of new leaders of the Democratic caucus but to the junior lawmakers who want to learn, particularly the few dozen freshmen Democrats who never served under her.
And she maintains a role as a fundraising eminence, particularly for an outside group led by former attorney general Eric H. Holder fighting legal battles to draw up House district maps. She’s hosting former president Barack Obama and Holder in San Francisco on Friday for high-dollar donors.
“I get my tasks, and I do them,” she said, predicting a large haul for this event. “We’ll do well.”