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The Importance Of Nancy Pelosi

By Rediff News Bureau
August 03, 2022 17:37 IST
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Nancy Pelosi's gritty refusal to backtrack on her plans to visit Taiwan is part of who she is.

Nancy Pelosi

IMAGE: Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu welcomes US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Taipei Songshan airport, August 2, 2022.
Photograph: Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's US Air Force plane landed at Songshan airport in Taipei on the night of August 2 and clad in a striking pink pant suit, she disembarked and boldly began her visit to Taiwan to show diplomatic support, amid a heightened security threat from a very livid China.

China had warned that the US that it would 'pay the price' if Pelosi visited Taiwan, the highest level US official, after 25 years, to be visiting the country, whose nationhood China does not acknowledge but who the US call an ally.

But not much stops Nancy.

Not today. Not ever.

She has made many high-profile visits, always sharply dressed, to places you would not expect her to be. Always to make a point.

IMAGE: Pelosi looks at a jewellery shop display during a tour to old Damascus, Syria, April 3, 2007.
Photograph: Jamal Saidi/Reuters

Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Havana, Cuba. Damascus, Syria. Pyongyang, North Korea. Kabul, Afghanistan. And more recently Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and show her support for the war-stricken nation.

Nancy Pelosi

IMAGE: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomes Pelosi in Kyiv, April 30, 2022.
Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters

A lively 82, Baltimore-born, Baltimore-raised, Baltimore-wed Pelosi is considered the most powerful woman in US politics.

Belonging to a Maryland political family with recent Italian roots, she learned her political skills rather young (attending her first Democratic conventions at 12!) -- her father was the mayor of Baltimore for almost a decade -- Pelosi began her career in politics after the last of her five children headed out to college, after spending her early years as a homemaker and hands-on mom in San Francisco.

In 1987 she was elected a US representative from California.

IMAGE: President John F Kennedy with Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr as Nancy Pelosi's father is sworn in at the Oval Office in March 1961 as a member of the Renegotiation Board, once the US government's watchdog to prevent excessive profits on defense and space contracts.
With D'Alesandro are his daughter Nancy (later Nancy Pelosi), left, and his wife Annunciata 'Nancy' Lombardi D'Alesandro, second from left.
Photograph: Abbie Rowe/White House Photographs/John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Pelosi, admired for her political astuteness and remarkable fundraising abilities, has been speaker of the United States House of Representatives since 2019, and before that from 2007 to 2011, four terms so far.

She is the first and only woman to have served as speaker of the US House.

IMAGE: Then US president Barack Obama with then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the US Capitol in June 2015.
Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Fiercely outspoken, who is not averse to scolding leaders in public, like then Colombian president Álvaro Uribe for his regime's misdemeanours in 2007, she has routinely taken a rock-solid stand and prominent role on major issues and during key events:

Impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package for the US during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iraq War, winning back the House from the Republicans in 2006, passage of Obama administration bills like Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the 2010 Tax Relief Act, opponent of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (to stop immigrants), support of LGBT rights, reform in marijuana laws, gun control, opponent of the overturning of Roe v Wade (right to abortion) and replacement of a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee with civil rights activist Rosa Parks in the US Capitol.

IMAGE: Then minority leader Pelosi at the San Francisco Gay Pride Festival, June 29, 2014.
Photograph: Noah Berger/Reuters

Pelosi has spent years working with Chinese officials on a variety of issues like trade, climate change, among others and has made numerous trips to China. But she has taken on China, especially on its human rights violations.

Back when Bill Clinton was president, Pelosi worked for sanctions against China for violating US copyright on software.

She signed a bill in 2020 calling for sanctions on Chinese officials instituting mass surveillance and incarceration of the Uyghurs in western Xinjiang.

She stood with Hong Kong protestors and has met with the Dalai Lama and officials of the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala.

She has been responsible for not letting the world forget the Tiananmen massacre, bringing it back in public consciousness at key intervals like when she unveiled the statue of the Tank Man in Washington, DC in 2019 honouring the Unknown Protestor.

IMAGE: Pelosi with her grandchildren on the House floor during the vote in which she was elected the first-ever woman speaker of the US House of Representatives on the first day of the 110th Congress in Washington DC, January 4, 2007.
Photograph: Joshua Robert/Reuters

This grandmother of nine keeps strenuously long work hours and loves, according to Food & Wine magazine and Business Insider, having dark chocolate ice cream first thing in the morning -- 'I don't see it as different from having a cup of coffee'.

IMAGE: A street sign shows a name change in Pelosi's honour in the Little Italy neighbourhood of her childhood hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, January 5, 2007.
Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Pelosi and her husband Paul own two vineyards back in California and there is a lane in Baltimore's Little Italy called Via Nancy D'Alesandro and a street in San Francisco named Nancy Pelosi Drive.

Paul Pelosi, who met Nancy in college, is the owner of Financial Leasing Services, Inc, a real estate and venture capital investment and consulting firm in San Francisco. He also owns the Sacramento Mountain Lions in the United Football League.

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