Pelosi Is a Speaker 'Without Peer'

Happy birthday to most influential House leader in 200 years: Meyerson
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2010 10:08 AM CDT
Pelosi Is a Speaker 'Without Peer'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. clutches a pen used by President Barack Obama to sign the health care bill.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Nancy Pelosi turns 70 today, and it is as fitting an occasion as any to consider perhaps the most influential Speaker of the House since Henry Clay in the early years of the 19th century, writes Harold Meyerson. Her health care victory means “Pelosi is without peer,” and has played a “key role in enacting major reforms” like “no speaker in the past century.” She ain’t a great talker, as all will admit, but she’s a stellar speaker.

Pelosi’s savvy and tenacity are exemplified by two risky moves in the last months, Meyerson writes in the Los Angeles Times. First, as Democrats from Harry Reid to President Obama backed away from health reform after losing the Senate supermajority, “Pelosi argued that major reform and major victory were still possible.” And then, amazingly, she wrangled the votes personally, balancing politics with conviction. “Not a bad couple of weeks' work, Madame Speaker. Happy birthday.” (Read more Harold Meyerson stories.)

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