No contemporary figure personifies San Francisco politics more than Nancy Pelosi. The House minority leader, The City’s very own representative, after all, is that “San Francisco Democrat” the American Right has turned into a pejorative. We think the true Nancy Pelosi, not the caricature, has abundantly earned re-election.
Is it impertinent to distinguish between the two? Certainly she can take justifiable pride from a career that has notably integrated her inner self with her political persona. That she emerges now as a woman of destiny, a political trailblazer at this moment in history, is testament to her unshakable drive.
Just this past week, owing to the ruling party’s disarray on Capitol Hill, the title “Speaker of the House” came well within her grasp. It is not even premature, if the activists who want to impeach the president and the vice president get their way, to speak of “President Pelosi.”
The very fact those words made it into print this morning probably will boost Republican fund-raising before lunch. Still, San Franciscans who’ve felt estranged from their country’s direction, and who don’t want to invest their psyches in Barry Bonds, can take pleasure in knowing their member of Congress plays hardball really, really well.
No, we’re not endorsing her for president, but neither do we think her re-election will portend America’s final collapse, as alarmists on the right suggest. We do wish she would show more transparency when it comes to her sizable earmarks, that practice of slipping pet appropriations into spending bills, but she has attended to her district admirably. We like it that she’s shown uncommon solicitude for AIDS/HIV sufferers. We salute her for pushing privatization of the Presidio.
Has Rep. Pelosi, especially in foreign policy, erred on the side of an either-or, partisan combativeness that ill serves the public discourse? Arguably, yes. But if Republicans need to rediscover their non-interventionist history, Democrats must offer something more responsible than a poorly defined “redeployment” of our troops — a euphemism for a disastrous withdrawal from our commitment to the Iraqi people.
We sense that Rep. Pelosi would like to find a way out of such a futile debate. She is wonderfully poised to nurture a constructive conversation about America’s future — a political legacy, to be sure, she would savor far more than owning Rep. Mark Foley’s scalp.
We think San Franciscans would like that fresh approach, too. Contrary to the caricature, most of The City’s voters do not inhabit the far regions of the paranoid Left. Rather, they are resolutely independent, forever in search of workable solutions and animated by a history of freedom.
The true San Francisco, then, harmonizes splendidly with what we take to be the inner Nancy Pelosi, who — once happily re-elected — must remind herself to represent The City to Washington, not Washington to The City.
Part of The San Francisco Examiner's 2006 election coverage.