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Nancy knows how to deal with a toddler's tantrums…

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Author Topic: Nancy knows how to deal with a toddler's tantrums…  (Read 181 times)
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Having fun in the hills!

« on: January 18, 2019, 03:15:02 pm »

from The New York Times…

Trump and Pelosi: A Game of Spite and Malice

She gets under his skin. He punches back. Game on.

By MICHELLE COTTLE | Thursday, January 17, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not afraid of going toe-to-toe with President Donald J. Trump. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/for The New York Times.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not afraid of going toe-to-toe with President Donald J. Trump. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/for The New York Times.

IT SEEMS that the speaker of the House has gotten under the famously thin skin of the president.

On Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised eyebrows on both sides of the aisle by effectively disinviting President Trump from delivering his State of the Union address to Congress this month.

In a letter citing concerns about the security implications of the continuing government shutdown, Ms. Pelosi suggested, “sadly,” that it might be best if she and the president could “determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing.”

The communiqué was at once excruciatingly polite and brutally dismissive, driving home how the power dynamic has shifted on Capitol Hill. As congressional Republicans sputtered about how grossly political the speaker was being, Mr. Trump was reminded not only of the limitations of his own power, but also of how his House enablers have been stripped of theirs.

Surprised and clearly irked, Mr. Trump fired back on Thursday with a petulant, taunting letter postponing a congressional delegation that Ms. Pelosi had been scheduled to lead to Brussels and Afghanistan — or at least canceling military support for it — for the duration of the shutdown. “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” snarked the president.

It was a transparent bit of retaliation for Ms. Pelosi's taking his big television moment away from him — not to mention a blatant attempt to drag the speaker down into the sort of cheap playground tussle at which the president excels.

But if anyone has the chops to manage Mr. Trump's brattiness, it is Ms. Pelosi.

Mr. Trump may in some ways be a unique political animal, but Ms. Pelosi is not unfamiliar with his type, having risen to political prominence in a field full of arrogant, entitled, patronizing men.

Along the way, she has been repeatedly underestimated. In 1985, having reached the top of the California Democratic Party, she campaigned, unsuccessfully, to head the national party. As Ms. Pelosi tells it, one union organizer dismissed her as “an airhead.” Other players told her that Democrats wouldn't risk elevating a woman to such a high-profile post on the heels of Walter Mondale's 1984 presidential loss with Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. Ms. Pelosi never forgot those slights.

Photograph: Tom Brenner/for The New York Times. Photograph: Tom Brenner/for The New York Times.
Both photographs by Tom Brenner for The New York Times.

Upon arriving in Congress in 1987, she had to carve out a space in what was then still an old white boys' club. She succeeded through a combination of sweat, savvy and sheer will. She learned how Congress works, both as an institution and as a collection of egos. As she showed in quashing a challenge to her leadership after the mid-term elections, she knows how to find people's pressure points.

She also knows how to handle pressure. As House minority leader, she helped derail President George W. Bush's efforts to privatize Social Security by ignoring the conventional wisdom that Democrats needed to offer an alternative plan. Resisting criticism from both the White House and her own conference, Ms. Pelosi focused on taking down Mr. Bush's plan.

This time around, Ms. Pelosi is aiming not merely to rein in the out-of-control president but, in the process, to deflate his cherished image as a Master of the Universe. She has mocked Mr. Trump's obsession with what she terms his “manhood” and gone all in with the grandmother-wrangling-an-unruly-child shtick. What he paints as strong leadership and standing his ground, she dismisses as a temper tantrum. Rather than outrage or disbelief, Ms. Pelosi's most common response to Mr. Trump amounts to one long, exasperated eye roll.

The speaker's move is not without risk. Public sentiment can be fickle, and if the voters starts to feel like Democrats are trying to score cheap political points against the president, they could turn on Ms. Pelosi.

But, here again, few politicians are as well equipped to weather a political storm. Ms. Pelosi has been a polarizing figure for longer than most members have been in Congress. For years, Republicans have been using her as a boogeyman, painting pretty much every Democratic candidate nationwide as a tool of her and her radical San Francisco agenda. As a result, her public appeal is much like that of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, slightly above a root canal. But while Pelosi-bashing has its charms — Republican voters do love hating on the speaker — as the mid-terms showed, it also has its limits.

For her part, Ms. Pelosi is not overly concerned with personal popularity. Like Mr. McConnell, she has a job to do, and if getting it done requires taking some heat, so be it.

Word around Washington is that Mr. Trump admires the speaker, considers her more reasonable than many in her conference — possibly even likes her. This is said to be why he doesn't smack her as gleefully as he does other prominent Democrats and why he hasn't settled on a sophomoric nickname for her like Cryin' Chuck or Crooked Hillary. This restraint is unlikely to hold, as Ms. Pelosi picks away at Mr. Trump. The big question is whether she can avoid getting pulled down into the muck right along with him.


• Michelle Cottle is a member of The New York Times' editorial board.

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If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 

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