A good photo opp is worth a thousand words. And that’s what we got as Nancy Pelosi announced she will stay in her leadership role in the Democratic Party, after speculation that she might step aside once President Obama was re-elected. As she put those rumors to rest, Pelosi surrounded herself with elected women in a moment that was food for my tired political soul. A true girl power moment!
But someone always has to find a way to rain on my women ruling the world parade, and this time it was Luke Russert. For some reason, Russert asked Pelosi — in her 21st century moment of women’s leadership — why she wasn’t stepping aside to allow younger leadership to step in.
How many ways is that a ridiculous question? Let me count the ways.
1. If Pelosi steps aside, the next in line for the leadership in the House of Representatives would be Steny Hoyer, that 70-something, young whippersnapper!
2. As a result of the 2012 election, women now have a historic number of women in Congress — 2o in the Senate and 81 in the House, thanks to years of hard work and climbing the ladder of political experience. And she would give that up because …????
3. A 20-something young man asking the first (and only) woman Speaker of the House to explain why she won’t think about stepping aside isn’t probing journalism. It’s just plain disrespectful. He may as well have said, ‘Hey Grandma! When are you going to go back to your knitting?’ Russert’s faux inquiry is a poke in the eye to women who admire the fact that Pelosi is a true political player, one who knows how to lead her party, is a master vote counter, and a player who knows how to get the votes when necessary. Would Russert ask his mom to step aside from her journalism career to make way for younger journos and fresh blood in the writing world? I think not.
Russert claims on Twitter that his question was a legitimate one, since the three top leaders in the house are 70+. But true political watchers with real knowledge of the way things work on Capitol Hill know that it takes years to attain true insider power. It’s not just about getting re-elected, its having the personality and grit to garner the chits and favors to work one’s way up the leadership ladder. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good thing that that’s how our system works. It just is that way.
So once you’ve gotten to the pinnacle of your party’s leadership, and you know how to lead your party from a perspective that we’ve never had before — a woman’s perspective — why on earth would someone suggest that it’s time to move over? (At least he didn’t channel Grover Norquist in his questioning).
If Hillary Clinton does run for president in 2016, I want to be around to hear Russert ask her that question.