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And she's not from Chicago!

Okay, she's not everyone's favorite, but I think Nancy Pelosi is a great politician. A reminder comes with this: "Democrats would tattoo Medicare right to their foreheads in an effort to seize back control of the House from Republicans."Driving home the point: "What we think is at stake is Medicare, Medicare, Medicare, because it will not exist if they win....Infinitely more important to me than the results of the election is whether Medicare survives. And it will not survive if they were to win.Maybe it's her Baltimore upbringing! At Politico.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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As an American pol, Pelosi's got her priorities straight, at least right now. As a senior, I am most concerned with protecting Medicare from Paul Ryan and the rest of his marauders, but I also realize there are Democratic politicians who will not do all they can to protect this program, and they need some stern direction from the top. Believe me, once you've experienced traditional Medicare, you never want to return to the mean streets of private insurance. After a lifetime of fighting the good fight with insurance companies that pinch every dime paid on a claim and refuse coverage whenever it's needed most, I'm not about to buy the idea that free market "competition" among insurance companies will result in the best deal for seniors. Since when has this system ever worked that way for anybody? No. I've seen the promised land...and Paul Ryan is not going to send me back!

If anyone thinks that the Ryomney voucher plan will be a good idea, just think back to when the Bush "doughnut hole" drug plan went into play. I remember the problems that I had trying to help some older (I'm now 72) folks choose which option to take, and I spent quite a few years working in corporate employee benefits planning and administration. What a freaking nightmare that was!Magnify that by X and you'll know what Vouchercare will be like.You don't need to kill the baby to fix whatever problems (s)he might have.

As good as it is, medicare cooperates with all the supplemental, medigaps, etc., in a way that clearly benefits the drug companies and insurance companies (and I include AARP among them). Racketeering that only the U.S. free market could tolerate and reward!!!

@ MOS:I absolutely sure it is Nancy D'alessandro Pelosi Baltimore upbrining that is evidencing itself in her political instincts.

I wouldn't have thought that a great politician was anything admirable, any more than a great snake-oil salesman or a great demagogue. Lying for a living is a pretty pathetic way to spend your life on earth.

hey Davis S. "I wouldnt have thought that a great politician was anything admirable'Even Republican Lincoln? Please say you are not a Tea Party drone.

Ed, Lincoln, so far as I know, was far more than a politician. The wikipedia article him an "astute politician" and a "great war president".I know little about the Tea Party other than it's something that greatly exercises the left. That could be good or bad.

Tangent:For all you political buffs: Ross Douthat's NYT column today is a surprising one. He doesn't blame the dependent poor for the country's financial problems, he blames the middle class and rich. Hmm. I hope this means the GOP is doing some self-reflecting. David Frum has also been critical of the grand old party lately. to think of it, Pelosi, while a product of city politics, is also a product of San Francisco big money. Are the political class lines being redrawn?

Among her many merits is this one: the "great politician" agrees with a majority of conservatives in their steadfast support of Israel. I doubt she would ever refer to the "51st state."From Wikipedia:Pelosi reaffirms that "America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship". Pelosi emphasized that "a strong relationship between the United States and Israel has long been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. America's commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel is unwavering,... " Pelosi's voting record shows consistent support for Israel. She states, "If the Palestinians agree to coordinate with Israel on the evacuation, establish the rule of law, and demonstrate a capacity to govern, the world may be convinced that finally there is a real partner for peace".

PM: Great politicians aren't always right. If they were, they would be saints.

Thanks for the Douthat, Ann. Sobering.He's better than you seem to think. Have you read Bad Religion?

And then! Read the Commonweal review of Douthat:

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels: Saints aren't always right either.

David S. --I haven't read the book, only his article about it. Mostly good as far as it goes, but, not surprisinglt , it's too simple. He seems to have an empathy for suffering creatures, which I admire -- too many conservatives seem to have killed theirs (see Rand et al, e.g.). But I don't think he appreciates how caught we all are in the contexts in which we're brought up. And all contexts, all backgrounds have their limitations and blind spots. To oversimplify (ha!), conservatives don't realize how easy it is for all of us to make mistakes, while liberals don't realize that there really is such a thing as sin. That, I think, is the big divide which turns our arguments automatically into sermons on morality or the lack thereof, and there's bitterness and distrust all around.The problem is fundamentally a theological one -- we all need to understand Original Sin better. The liberals don't seem to think it's real. The conservatives think they're exempt from it. The over-optimistic thinking on both sides has to go. Both sides need to learn self-criticism and to stop knee-jerk name-calling. Douthat, I think, is learning to criticize himself and his own, and more power to him.Eng of sermon for today :-)

"A progressive is someone who keeps making the same mistake, while a conservative is someone who prevents a mistake from ever being corrected." (G. K. Chesterton)"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative."(John Stuart Mill)The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." (John Kenneth Galbraith)

A lot of you folks are apparently living in a bubble. You think of yourself as liberal but keep spreading calumnies about the GOP and conservatives. We do not stand against the poor but want to invigorate the economy so all are provided with opportunities to prosper. We don't want to do in Medicare but do want to make the hard decisions that will make it solvent.

John W. --The current problem with the GOP -- the Romney 'solution" to the deficit -- is that they plan to slash the programs that benefit the poor, viz., entitlements like Medicaid and Aid to Dependent Children. Or at least that is th way Romney talks -- he has yet to present any figures of just how much will be cut where, but he assures us it will be enough to solve the deficit problem without raising taxes on the rich. (See? He takes care of the rich first, not the poor.)

Thanks, Margaret (10 am). I missed the review when it first appeared. It's more interesting now, though, than it would have been then, since I just finished the book.Interesting how the flaws of people in "the other camp" are far more important than their virtues, and how their best efforts can only show up their intellectual debility.Critics of one or another political persuasion might to well to wear the hair shirt of not putting down people because of the alien company they keep and imagining themselves aliens along with them - at least for the length of the review. Not every time, of course; every now and then would do.

If I recall the review correctly, it raised questions about the accuracy of Douthat's historical interpretation. The reviewer definitely goes back that far. Do liberals just have better memories than conservatives?

Margaret - it may be worth noting that she did preside over one of the worst midyear electoral drubbings in living memory, or beyond, in 2010. Many observers were surprised that the Democratic Party kept her on as minority leader in the wake of that debacle.

I don't know if Nancy Pelosi is a "great politician" or not, but I do think that unless she and other House Democratic leaders work seriously for the election of pro-life Democrats, the possibility is substantial that the House could be in Republican control for many elections cycles to come."In 1978, the Democratic Party, held a 292-seat majority in the U.S. House, with 125 pro-life Democrats. Increased partisanship over the pro-life issueincluding the rejection of pro-life candidates within the Democratic Partycaused many of the pro-life Democratic districts to elect Republican candidates. In fact, the number of pro-choice Democrats in the House has essentially remained around 167. It is the number of pro-life Democrats that decreased from 125 to only 17, leaving Democrats overall with only 184 Members."

Nancy Pelosi is a saint compared to Boehner. She deserves a lot of credit for the health care plan. What's not to like?

@ william collier:Your quote references the politics of 1978 - that's over thirty years ago. A lot has changed since then.One of those changes is that Nancy Pelosi was Speaker from 2007-2011. [It takes a majority to elect the Speaker.]Democrats in the Congress lost the majority in the 2010 election not because of their pro-choice stances: The Republicans cynically lied to the American public about fictitious "cuts" to Medicare due to the passage of Obamacare - all of which proved to be the winning formula in a low turn-out election where low information voters (read, Republicans and Tea Partiers) held crucial sway in especially swing districts in the Obama-hating southern states.Thanks to Paul Ryan's plan to voucherize Medicare, in January 2013 look for Nancy Pelosi to be restored to the appellation of "Madame Speaker!"Nancy Pelosi's 3-point plan for regaining the majority: 1. Medicare 2. Medicare 3. Medicare.

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