Sunday, November 12, 2006

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf—I mean—Nancy Pelosi?

George. And if he isn’t, then he should be. For weeks now, we’ve heard the right wing goon squad fear Nancy. Nancy, the liberal. Nancy, from San Francisco. Nancy, the left coaster. Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. Nancy, bella Pelosi. You almost get the vision of Taylor and Burton, as Martha and George respectively, singing, “Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf? Virginia Woolf? The Big Bad Woolf?” In fact, while composing this entry, I went to the Wikipedia biography of Pelosi, looking for a picture, when lo and behold, I found a graphic photograph of a certain female part where a picture of Pelosi should’ve been. Talk about the vagina dentata male fear!

There’s a lot to fear with Nancy Patricia Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is a first class politician and a better role model for women than that triangulation queen, Hillary. What’s Hillary calling herself now…an ambassador of bipartisanship? Ok, Hillary Lieberman. What a crock of shit!

The youngest of a large Italian-American family, Pelosi learned early on from both her father and her family that there are discrete skills necessary to be adept at politics. Pelosi’s father, a former mayor of Baltimore and a congressman, and her brother, also a former congressman, served as role models for Pelosi. But I would argue that growing up in an Italian-American family also provided a solid training ground for Pelosi, and I speak here from personal experience because I’m part of Italian.

The Italian-American family is all about politics; anyone who is Italian-American should know. There’s the head of the family, of course—the mother. Yes, folks, mothers have far more power than fathers in the family albeit this doesn’t seem to be so. Just look at Tony Soprano, for heaven’s sake: he can’t escape the wrath of his mother or the presence of his wife—the mother of his children—and the judgment of his shrink—Dr. Melfi—his surrogate, psychic mother. Let’s take a lesson from Tony: You never want to permanently piss off the Italian-American mother because if you do, you will receive an unbearable wrath or a sustained silent treatment, which is worse. Learning to navigate the waters of our mothers’ households—their kingdoms—teaches us Italian-Americans political skills that seldom can be reduplicated elsewhere. I won’t even address sibling dynamics—the senatorial set, the aunts and uncles, who act like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, and the multiple cousins and their factions—a blog is clearly insufficient for the volumes of political experiences to be analyzed here. One could write tomes upon tomes.

The fear of Nancy, though, extends beyond her ethnicity. Pelosi’s accomplishments are quite impressive unto themselves. Having raised five children, Pelosi officially entered politics once her children were in high school. She rose through the ranks of the political scene in northern California, Marin County, San Francisco, to be exact, which has a history of being red despite the conventional indigo perception. First elected to the House in 1988, Pelosi has been a flame-thrower ever since. And she’s known for her discipline, her backroom politicking, and, believe it or not, her moderation. Sounds like all the attributes a Republican pole salivates over; for Barry Goldwater’s sake, even Joe Scarborough has gone on record to say nice things about Nancy; this, of course, was in the late afternoon when the red set was still at work.

So let’s put this equation together: Mrs. Pelosi comes from the matrix of all political matrices—the Italian-American political institute, nothing to sniff at; Mrs. Pelosi has learned skillfully how to operate in the “family”; Mrs. Pelosi is a mother, a grandmother, and a practicing Catholic—the right hates that; Mrs. Pelosi is far better at flame-throwing than frumpy Hillary; and Mrs. Pelosi, like Howard Dean, another figure of hate for the right, has all the attributes of a successful politician: discipline, responsibility, decisiveness, fearlessness, and conservative traits of governing that so many overlook. Add these factors together and what you get is what the opposition fears most: the possibility of a successful, moderate—yes, moderate, House Leader.

Who’s Afraid of Nancy Pelosi? The neoconservative, hard right—you betcha. Just looking at Georgie in the press conference with Pelosi this week conjured up images of the naughty Catholic school boy meeting with mother superior—I know: been there, done that. The faithful left—sure, the criticisms are already rolling in, just check out The Huffington Post. And what about that junior senator from New York? Well, if she’s not scared, then perhaps she should take a harder look at Nancy Pelosi and how Pelosi has risen to success in a man’s world without bending herself into a pretzel of unrecognizable shape.

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