Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2019

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Obvious choice for speaker is Nancy Pelosi

This is supposed to be a Thanksgiving Day column — a few days late.

It is not — thankfully — a column about our president. That would be too much to bear even for me on a weekend celebrating my favorite holiday.

But it is about another American figure in political life. It is about a person for whom most people should be grateful, because her contributions to our way of living through public service are well known throughout the land. They are so well known that even her detractors begrudgingly admit her talent and dedication to the American people. That is, if you add up all the many millions of dollars the GOP spent during the past few years trying to vilify her in front of the voters and consider that a sign of respect.

Twisted, I know, but it is 2018. And this year, by all accounts, she won really big. HUGE, in fact.

I am talking about Rep. Nancy Pelosi from California. She is the Democratic minority leader of the House and, if the Democrats are smart — not a foregone conclusion — the next speaker of the House.

She has been made the poster child for all that is bad in our country, a yearslong effort by the Republican Party, whose playbook is simple and to the point: Find the one person whom your opponents can’t live without and make that person too hot to handle, an unspeakable household name and a person not worthy of belief or consideration by decent people. Then, sit back and let the GOP voters do the rest.

If that doesn’t work — like it didn’t work in the midterm elections , which saw the largest Democratic gains since 1974, when President Richard Nixon left office in disgrace and our country in political ruins — then let the Democrats do what they do best.

Democrats eat their young.

Unlike their GOP counterparts, who have demonstrated their fealty to the king by closing ranks around President Donald Trump’s worst tendencies, Democrats are doing all they can to snatch defeat from the jaws of a substantial victory.

And they are doing it because Republicans made Nancy, who is a good person and a great American, into a villain. And Democrats have not yet demonstrated the courage or the willpower or the smarts to stand up to the GOP lies or to their constituents, who could use some straight talk after years of Republican obfuscation.

What happened to that time in our not-too-distant history when our elected officials were willing to explain things to the voters, especially those things the people didn’t quite understand or those things that required a change of position based on changing facts on the ground? When they trusted the voters?

And what happened to those same good old days when voters respected their leaders — even when they disagreed with their votes — because the people knew their elected representatives were doing their best under the circumstances? When the voters trusted their representatives?

I know, that’s another lament for another time.

But this time, the issue is simple. As I see it, there is no other apparent, obvious, singular choice to lead the House of Representatives forward toward a time of decency, deliberation and decision-making. That’s because Pelosi has done it before, she has proved her mettle in the trenches of 2018, and she stands ready with the experience, determination and rectitude to do it again.

Everything else is just political noise that fits the Republican playbook but not any responsible plan for moving this country forward at a time of substantial national upheaval.

The GOP, through its spineless unwillingness to hold the president to account, has forfeited its opportunity to lead. It is now the Democrats’ turn, and their only hope for smart, sensible and purposeful direction is a Speaker Pelosi.

There is also another reason why Nevada’s congressional delegation specifically should support Pelosi for the top job.

His name is Harry Reid.

I know Sen. Reid has retired, and it appears to the unknowing that he can no longer help a small state like Nevada on the national scene as he did for so many years as the Senate’s majority and minority leader. In fact, no one anywhere and at any time has done so much to advance the needs of this state than Reid. Period.

But we are talking about Nevada’s Harry Reid.

With the White House and the Senate in Republican hands, it falls to the speaker of the House to stand up for what a young, relatively new and not yet powerful Democratic delegation from Nevada will need for their constituents. That’s the way it works in Washington.

As much as I believe that Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford are going to be good leaders for this state back in our nation’s capital, the fact remains that they will need some help to get things done — at least for a couple of years or so.

And while I rarely and always reluctantly quote the “little paper down the street,”it did pay homage last week to the incredible political performing power of the “Reid Machine” in the midterms, even though our good senator has been retired for two years.

And I agree. Reid still has it, and Nevada should hope that he continues to have it — to look out for the Silver State — for many years to come.

And that brings me back toReid’s friend Nancy Pelosi.

At a time when there will be some bad things coming down the pike for Nevadans — let’s think about Yucca Mountain, anti-immigration efforts, voter suppression ideas not even worthy of 18th-century America let alone the United States of today , and science-based opportunities that will be buried in the ignorant parts of the deniers’ minds who are in charge of our country — it may be our only salvation that Reid knows Pelosi, and Pelosi loves and respects Reid.

There are some reformers who will scream that politics shouldn’t work like that, and they may be right.

But today, in 2018, politics does work like that, just as it has since the founding of the republic. So to tilt at windmills while our democracy is under siege and while Americans need real leadership — enlightened, thoughtful and sane — is a fool’s errand.

Now is not the time for the Democrats to act like, well, Democrats. Now is the time for everyone in the majority party in the House of Representatives to act like Americans and do what is best in the time of Trump.

So on this holiday weekend when we give thanks for all of our blessings as Americans, let us be thankful for our friends and families first.

And then let us give thanks for the few real and decent leaders we do have.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.