First, I need to share a couple of points just for full transparency. My husband is acquainted with the author of this book and he and I were able to join a Zoom book launch party when it first came out.
But the fact that I drank wine on my couch while Molly Ball answered questions about her writing process isn’t the reason I loved this it’s because it confirmed everything I have believed to be true about Nancy Pelosi and I am JUST SO GLAD someone is laying it all out in plain language.
It’s impossible to follow Congress and not have a sense of Pelosi’s history. Ball takes readers back to Baltimore and the Democratic machine her family ran in the city of Nancy D’Allesandro’s childhood. She was witness to both the overt power of her father’s political offices and her mother’s more discreet behind-the-scenes operations as a Democratic party organizer.
Both of those experiences informed how Pelosi would rise through Democratic politics to become the most powerful woman in American history.
She used the backroom networking skills she learned from her mother and put them to work as a fundraiser for Democrats in California. That took her on a road to hyper-local politics (the board of a library) to state politics (California Party chair) to Congress, just like her father before her.
Pelosi entered politics in spite of being a woman, not because of it. She wasn’t there to stake out power for the sake proving that women can thrive in the boys club of Washington. She had a constituency to serve and that was always her focus. But she also never forgot that being a woman made her “other” in the Capitol and making sure her colleagues didn’t dismiss her was a constant struggle. She recalled being at a dinner with several other Representatives and all the men in the room were discussing their wives experiences with childbirth. They all chuckled and shared stories and never once asked the women at the table — all of whom had given birth themselves — to weigh in. Pelosi tolerated that in social situations much better than in Committee or on the Floor of the House, where she never backed down.
The Pelosi this book describes is very much like the image of Pelosi I have always carried. I observed her from the vantage point of an advocacy professional in the…