Pelosi, dominant figure for the ages, leaves lasting imprint
There are two searing scenes of Nancy Pelosi confronting the violent extremism that spilled into the open late in her storied political career. In one, she’s uncharacteristically shaken in a TV interview as she recounts the brutal attack on her husband.
In the other, the House speaker rips open a package of beef jerky with her teeth during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, while on the phone with Mike Pence, firmly instructing the Republican vice president how to stay safe from the mob that came for them both. “Don’t let anybody know where you are,” she said.
That Pelosi, composed and in command at a time of chaos, tart but parochial-school proper at every turn, is the one whom lawmakers have obeyed, tangled with, respected and feared for two decades.
She is the most powerful woman in American politics and one of the nation’s most consequential legislative leaders — through times of war, financial turmoil, a pandemic and an assault on democracy.
Now, at 82, in the face of political loss and personal trauma, she decided her era was ending.
Pelosi stood in the well of a rapt House on Thursday and announced she would not seek a Democratic leadership position in the Congress that convenes in January, when Republicans take control of the chamber. Pelosi, who will remain a member of the House, took her time revealing the news, looking back over an improbable career and recalling her first visit to the Capitol at age 6 with her congressman father.
“Never would I have thought that I would go from homemaker to House speaker,” she allowed. On her future, she told reporters: “I like to dance, I like to sing. There’s a life out there, right?”