News / USA

    Nancy Pelosi Makes History as Powerful House Speaker

    Multimedia

    Cindy Saine

    Nancy Pelosi has won broad recognition as an effective Speaker of the House of Representatives.  But she is also the target of opposition Republicans trying to win back control of the House in this November's congressional elections.

    Nancy Pelosi made history on January 4, 2007 when she was sworn in as the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in its 218-year history.

    The mother of five invited the children and grandchildren of House members, including her own eight grandchildren, to join her.

    Nancy Pelosi talked about her background at a street-name-changing ceremony in her honor in Baltimore, Maryland.

    "I was born and raised in Baltimore, where my father was mayor, and we were raised in a family that was devoutly Catholic, deeply patriotic, extremely proud of our Italian-American heritage, extremely proud of that, and in our case, staunchly Democratic," she said.

    As a child, the young Nancy learned hard-nosed political skills from her politician father.

    Democratic pollster and Pelosi advisor, Celinda Lake:

    "Politics was certainly not something that was new to her," said Lake.  "I don't know if she ever aspired to be arguably the most powerful woman in the United States today, and one of the most successful. Because she has really organized that Democratic Party and gotten them to do things in the House that no one else could do and that people said was impossible in this day and age in politics."

    One of the things Pelosi got done as Speaker, that Democrats had been trying to do for more than 70 years, is to pass sweeping health care reform.  Lake says Pelosi was clearly the driving force in the effort.

    "And when other people wanted to cave in, when people wanted to say, including a very powerful man in our party said, 'let's just do children's health care and let's come back at it another day,' she said no, this country needs health care reform, we are going to take on the insurance industry, we are going to get it done," noted Lake.

    Republican political strategist Terry Nelson agrees that Pelosi was the key to passing health care reform, but points out that she is a polarizing figure for many conservatives.  

    "Her unfavorable rating is usually in the high 40s to low 50s, which, for a speaker of the House is really, really extraordinary," said Nelson.  "I mean Speakers of the House tend to be, they are obviously important figures, but they tend not to be extraordinarily well-know across the country.  With Nancy Pelosi, a lot of people know who she is and they have strong feelings about her."

    Nelson says Pelosi is so unpopular among conservatives because she represents one of the most left-leaning, heavily Democratic districts of the country, San Francisco, California.  And he says she is not known for reaching out to Republicans.

    "That has never been the case," he added.  "When I worked on the Hill it wasn't the case and I don't think it has developed since then.  So I think that those two things kind of together, her own perspectives on the world, her lack of relationships on the other side have made for a divisive kind of leadership, that has come out of the House.  And it has stood in contrast to the way Barack Obama campaigned in 2008."

    Some analysts say that Speaker Pelosi and President Barack Obama complement each other, with her tough, behind-the-scenes way of getting things done, and his gift for inspiring many with his public speeches. The two still have a lot more they want to accomplish, including financial reform, immigration reform, and climate change legislation.

    To do this, Pelosi has to try to hold on to the Democrats' current majority in the House of Representatives when the entire House is up for re-election this November.  

    If the Republicans do win back the majority, she will no longer be Speaker. But her place in history will be secure as the first female speaker, and the one who helped pushed health care legislation through Congress.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora