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The Undisputed Political Champion Of 2019? Nancy Pelosi

REUTERS

Anders Hagstrom Video Columnist
  • Pelosi fought off rebellion in her own party
  • She eclipsed Democratic 2020 candidates as face of the party
  • Now poised as effective Trump rival with impeachment inquiry

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opened 2019 on a high note, securing a win against President Donald Trump to end the longest government shutdown in American history, but that victory marked the beginning of a long road of challenges.

The months that followed saw Pelosi stymied by challenges to her authority, upheavals in her party, and personal attacks from the rebellious young progressives in the House. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her “squad” were the main source of Pelosi’s troubles within her party. Not only did they see President Trump’s administration as an opportunity to purge the party of more moderate reps like Pelosi, President Donald Trump saw them as an opportunity to win re-election in 2020 by painting them as the face of the Democratic Party.

But fast-forward to October, and Pelosi is the undisputed face of the Democratic Party, having reined in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her “squad,” minimized her rivals in the Senate, and eclipsed even her Party’s 2020 presidential candidates. Her transformation from besieged has-been to effective Trump foe shows she is still the effective political operator she has been for decades, and is certainly the political winner of 2019.

When AOC botched her rollout of the Green New Deal and pushed Democrats to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel, Pelosi, like President Trump, saw the policies as toxic to American voters. Pelosi faced the challenge of establishing herself to her base as effectively anti-Trump while simultaneously snuffing out the #Resistance’s more radical progressive dreams.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also saw AOC as an opportunity to paint the Democrats as radical, going so far as to bring the Green New Deal up for a vote in the Senate, forcing Democrats into a mass abstention on their own legislation. (RELATED: The Escalating Feud Between Pelosi And AOC)

The Party’s 2020 candidates also seemed to be taking their cues from AOC rather than Pelosi, with several coming out in support of sections of the Green New Deal.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) poses with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in a photo released by her office after they met in the Speaker's office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 26, 2019. Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi/via REUTERS

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) poses with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in a photo released by her office after they met in the Speaker’s office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 26, 2019. (Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi/via REUTERS)

Today, AOC is less forthcoming with her criticism of the Democratic Party.

“In many ways, I feel like I walk around with a scarlet letter because many members who just have any primary, whether I know about it or not, tend to project that onto me,” AOC told the Times. “In many ways, I feel like I walk through that body as a symbol of someone who should not be there and a threat to the way power is organized.”

Pelosi partly reined in AOC by finally coming out in support of impeaching President Trump. The legitimacy of her impeachment push has benefited from her hesitance to move forward with the process. It also took the anti-Trump spotlight away from New York Rep. Jerry Nadler’s Judicial Committee and put it squarely onto her.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) leaves after the committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for not providing an un-redacted copy of special prosecutor Robert Mueller's report. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) leaves after the committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for not providing an un-redacted copy of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Soon, President Trump’s days of releasing statements defending Pelosi against the radicals in her party were over, and she posed a real threat.

“[T]he President cannot allow your constitutionally illegitimate proceedings to distract him and those in the Executive Branch from their work on behalf of the American people,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Pelosi. “The President has a country to lead.”

No longer is Pelosi a House Speaker who needs to bow so low as to defend the anti-Semitism of freshman Congresswomen. Instead, President Trump has identified her as one of his main opponents, granting her the nickname “Nervous Nancy,” and accusing her of going on an “unhinged meltdown” against him (a characterization Pelosi embraced) during a White House meeting on the ongoing withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. (RELATED: US Bombs Its Own Base In Syria To Prevent NATO Ally Turkey From Taking It Over)

Pelosi went so far as to get up and leave according to the Washington Post, and as she made for the door, President Trump reportedly yelled “see you at the polls.”

“He just couldn’t handle it, so he kind of engaged in a meltdown,” Pelosi told reporters, “I think now we have to pray for his health, because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”