At a quarter past twelve, the night before announcing her retirement, Nancy Pelosi’s phone rings. Joe Biden. “Stay,” he pleads. “Excuse me. We need you.”
The nearly eighty-year-old president tries to stop the eighty-two-year-old Speaker of the House from retiring at the last minute. She served as a delegate to the Democratic Party for 35 years, and leader of the party for 20 years. Her husband was hospitalized with a hammer a few weeks ago and is slowly recovering. However: “stay”.
“I didn’t sleep that night,” says Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra. “Why didn’t they let her go? Why didn’t they let her go like a bird? That was selfish, I thought.”
“Call me back tomorrow,” says Pelosi. and instructed her staff not to put the chief under any circumstances before eleven o’clock in the morning. Her farewell party starts at twelve and she doesn’t want to walk around with stomachaches all morning. “At eleven, zero, zero, zero, her phone rings,” says Alexandra. Joe Biden: Stay. Excuse me.'”
At the time, congressional television screens say the president will make an “announcement” at 12:10 p.m. In the plenary hall, Republican delegates take turns approaching the microphone to bring attention to the news from their constituencies. But as soon as Pelosi took to the stage in a white jumpsuit to formally announce her retirement, most Republicans fled. They have been calling her a “traitor” for the past two years, endorse the death threats and want her charged. They don’t want to embellish it with goodbyes.
It didn’t seem to bother Pelosi. She laughs like a girl as she says her parting words. “My mom and dad taught us by their example that the common good is a great good and that we all have a responsibility to help others.”
Then she comforts the Democrats, who fall into her arms, crying. “It’s a sad day,” says Jimmy Raskin a little later in the driveway. “I literally owe her everything,” Ann Koster, a member of the group, says, tearfully.
Then Pelosi has to deal with it Chocolate chip cookies She retreated to a small room on the ground floor, with the journalists who had followed her for years. She agrees that her phone “blew up” from all the requests from House Democrats to stay put. Had the Democrats retained a majority in the House of Representatives, she would have asked God to stay, she says.
“Of course” she knew her mother would stop, says Alexandra Pelosi. “After the attack on my father, there was no question about her remaining boss. I waited for the election results.”
In a statement, Biden finally resigned himself to her departure: “As a country, we owe her great gratitude for her commitment, her patriotism, and above all her dignity.”
Who is this woman and why does the president think he can’t live without her?
The DiAlessandro family was somewhat of a local Kennedy dynasty in Baltimore. Father Thomas was a member of the House of Representatives who counted himself among the enforcers of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, after which he named his son. D’Alessandro championed a planned economy and the liberation of black Americans, and in so doing was ahead of the forces within his own party in Maryland,” says historian Matthew Crenson. Voters could find him in a corner house on Albemarle Street in Little Italy in the evenings and at St. Leo’s Catholic Church on Sundays. It was his birth. Daughter Nancy on March 26, 1940 made front-page news for the Baltimore News Post: “She’s a girl for D’Alesandros”.
Thomas became mayor of Baltimore in 1947. A theoretician and pragmatist, he promptly had black students admitted to white schools when it became legally possible. “But who else sought the support of voters and illegal lottery organizers in order to win the election,” says Crenson.
From that time dates valid file. Local residents and constituents sat at a large desk in their home and asked D’Alesandro for help. Her mother conducted the conversations, and little Nancy wrote down the questions to help on the yellow sheets. “He’s completely out of touch with Vito Corleone The Godfather”, says Alexandra, a documentary filmmaker. “When one person was helped and another came up with the same question, my mother would take the yellow piece of paper and ask the first student to help the second.” Know your strength. A message to the daughters of America (2008).
Her father’s conference papers were stacked under her bed. “This is how my mother learned to do politics,” says Alexandra Pelosi, “by osmosis.” Her older brother Tommy was to be Mayor of Nancy Nun. After a respected Catholic girls’ school, the Conservatory of Notre Dame, she was allowed to go to the girls’College Trinity in Washington preparing for marriage.
Alexandra Pelosi remembers visiting her grandparents in Baltimore’s Italian community in the 1970s and 1980s. “Hollywood movie set,” she says. Her grandfather was sitting in front of the house, wearing a three-piece suit. He’s been very honest about what the mayoralty has been like to him all these years: ‘Every morning you get a big plate of shit. All this, they tell you, is chocolate ice cream. You say: no, I don’t, it’s nonsense. No, it’s real ice cream, taste it. So you eat it anyway and say: it’s rubbish. And the next day they serve you a new plate of nonsense. He dealt with other people’s problems, no matter how difficult it was.
Nancy moved with her husband Paul, three daughters, and a son to San Francisco in 1969, where Paul came from and where Alexandra, the youngest, was born. He started as a banker, and I became a housewife. Nancy took turns driving the kids and their friends to school, sewing Halloween costumes for her kids, and baking cookies for the annual class competition.
It was a traditional house – although many people had just joined it. Jerry Brown, the charismatic governor of California, came to dinner and took his girlfriend, singer Linda Ronstadt, with him. Movie star Jane Fonda once sat at the table.
“Mom She told her daughter, “She can run for Parliament.” “I’ll only do it if you let me.”
In 1986, Alexandra was sixteen years old and the only one of the children still living in the house. her mother asked:Mom He has a chance to run for the House of Representatives elections. I will do it only if you allow me to do so. ” Alexandra replied: “Mom, get a life!” Of course she had to do whatever she wanted. “My mom still thinks this is a great story. I edited her. She can start the third chapter of her life.”
Years of organizing dinner parties, connecting people, and raising money for things like the local library proved to be good preparation for national politics in Washington. As one of twelve women in the Democratic Party at the time, Pelosi was initially ignored by the men. But she soon turns out to have some remarkable qualities: with her sympathy she feels what friends and political opponents need to be on her side. And she is unparalleled in fundraising. On her retirement day, her team announced how much Democratic campaign money Pelosi raised for this election: $310 million, and the amount during her 20-year leadership: $1.3 billion. Pelosi himself said, “I’m not going to miss this.” “Raise a million dollars a day, five days a week.”
Ask friends to describe Nancy Pelosi as a politician and you’ll hear: She doesn’t sleep — “there’s always a time zone she can call” — she eats nails for breakfast, puts on her heels, goes to the hairdresser and then to Congress. “Discipline, this is my mother in a word,” says Alexandra. “If you’re in China with her, she won’t talk for a week, because she can be heard. If you’re in the bathroom, she points at the shower head. I know she’s right. On our last visit, the heel of my shoe broke off. It turns out there was a microphone in it.”
“She has an amazing ability to listen very accurately to whoever she’s talking to,” said House Democrat Jamie Raskin of Maryland. “Not to one person, but to each person for the whole group. And then you extract the best ideas from those conversations and turn them into ideas we can use.”
She always takes notes about the conversations she’s having. Counted all day: votes. against New York times She said at the time of the election, “I don’t count the sheep, I count the districts.” In October, before her husband was attacked, in-between congressional work, she visited 20 American cities in support of domestic candidates, interrupted by a trip to Croatia to confer on Ukraine. “With her at the helm, there is absolutely no reason to doubt that a bill will pass,” President Biden said in his statement. “If she says she has the necessary votes, then she has theirs. Always.”
In her farewell address, Pelosi herself cited the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as one of the great achievements in the House’s history. That bill passed thanks to Pelosi, who spent a year convincing delegate after delegate to support the bill. At first she tried to get the Catholic bishops to understand that abortion should be covered by the National Insurance Institute. As a Catholic, she believed that a woman’s right to decide for herself to have an abortion should prevail. She failed to convince the bishops – and was almost excluded from Holy Communion.
In one of her press conferences, she explained how much patience and ingenuity are needed. “Go through the gate. When the gate closes, cross the gate. If the fence is too high, jump over it with a pole. If that doesn’t work, we’ll drop a parachute. But we’ll fix health care for Americans.”
In March 2010, she was able to reach a compromise with the conservative-majority Senate. This has become the Obamacare that 35 million Americans now use. She had to neglect reimbursement for an abortion – something that progressive politicians resented. “My mother always says, ‘You can achieve a lot if you don’t have to take the credit,'” says Alexandra Pelosi.
Despite this modesty or because of her effectiveness, she is one of the most hated politicians among Republican voters. When Donald Trump drops her name during a rally, the crowd chants, “She’s a witch!” Whenever Pelosi showed President Trump his boss — during live-streamed negotiations in the Oval Office (“In this House, you’ll never get enough votes for your wall”) or with excessive applause when he delivered his State of the Union address. He declared that he wanted an end to the “politics of retaliation” – the more severe his attack on her personally.
ALEXANDRA PELOSI: This is how support for Trump changed from: “We disagree with you” to: “We want to kill you.” I personally blame Trump for that.”
Read also: Violence is not far from the surface of American politics.
The day after Paul Pelosi was attacked by a man who said he was looking for “Nancy,” Nancy and Alexandra were at his bedside in the intensive care unit in San Francisco. Alexandra tells her mother: “35 years ago I gave you my blessing. If I had known where this would end, I would not have done it.” She is silent for a moment. “I don’t think it was worth it.”
Nancy Pelosi says nothing. But if you asked her now, she’d say, “It was all worth it.” I am proud of my wounds. She is a woman who is proud every day to be a Member of Parliament.”