Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reminded Americans on Thursday why she is such a toxic presence in Congress.
In her weekly press conference, Pelosi suggested that former Vice President Joe Biden should not debate President Donald Trump this fall. “I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him nor a debate in terms of the presidency of the United States,” she added.
On one level, Pelosi was articulating the growing fear among Democrats that Biden can’t beat Trump — at least, not fairly. There was also gamesmanship involved: if Biden has to debate Trump, best to set expectations as low as possible.
But Pelosi also made clear that nearly four years into the Trump presidency, she still refuses to regard him as the legitimate, elected leader. She also thinks the voters do not deserve to see the candidates face off against one another in a public forum.
This is how Pelosi has treated the electorate, and her own party, for years. And her behavior has become worse over time.
She was first elected Speaker in 2006, the first woman ever to rise to that powerful position, in charge of the nation’s purse strings and third in line for the presidency. She and her party took Congress promising to “drain the swamp” of corruption.
But Pelosi immediately broke that promise, backing Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) for the post of House Majority Leader, whom the Wall Street Journal described as steeped in the “culture of corruption.” (He eventually lost to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
For two years, Pelosi regarded her job as treading water until the 2008 election, when Democrats would have the chance to take complete control of Washington. Meanwhile, she consolidated power to an unprecedented degree in the Speaker’s office.
After 2008, she pushed through unprecedented liberal legislation: the $862 billion stimulus; the $400 billion omnibus; cap-and-trade (which went nowhere in the Senate); and the ultimate left-wing dream, the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare.
The latter cost Pelosi control of the House, as outraged voters, led by the Tea Party, marched to the polls and delivered a huge Republican victory. In most other democracies, that loss would have prompted Pelosi to resign in favor of new leadership.
But not Pelosi. She was determined to maintain power. She defeated every leadership challenge — from Rep. Health Shuler (D-NC) to Tim Ryan (D-OH) — and tightened her grip on her party, hoping one day that she would seize the gavel again.
That day came in 2019, after Democrats returned to power in the House. Pelosi faced a new challenge in the form of a cohort of far-left radicals — the so-called “Squad.” She deftly negotiated for their support, promising to serve only two more terms.
Her ambition is to return to the position she and Democrats had in 2009, after Obama won. She knows that she could be the effective leader of the country, with the hapless, geriatric Joe Biden managed by a team of party fixers at the White House.
To that end, she has planted the idea that she is already “co-equal” to the president in terms of the Constitution. She has also blocked everything that anyone else has tried to do — and not just President Trump. When a bipartisan team of Senators had reached a deal on the second round of coronavirus relief, Pelosi jetted in from her luxury mansion in San Francisco, declared her contempt for the Senate’s work, and released an 1,815-page bill of special interest giveaways and partisan power grabs.
Along the way, Pelosi also impeached the president. She rushed to open the inquiry — before she had seen the evidence — then delayed the articles of impeachment for weeks. It was one of the worst and most cynical abuses of power in the sorry history of the Beltway. She could have been remembered for Obamacare; Obama himself said he was willing to lose to pass it. Instead, Pelosi will be remembered for her pursuit of power. Voters could vindicate her ambitions — or send her packing.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.