In Praise of This Particular Older Woman
With grace and firmness, 78-year-old Nancy Pelosi is putting the class bad boy in the corner
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is schooling the bully in chief, and at the same time perhaps reinventing our notion of what it means to be an older woman.
While a huge amount of attention has been focused on the new millennial faces in Congress, it is the 78-year-old Pelosi who deftly led her party back to majority status and quickly tamped down an intra-party revolt that planned to grab the Speaker’s gavel from her hand because some of the new kids on the block thought she was “too old.”
But as those would-be revolters learned, it is precisely her age, gender, and experience—both legislating and raising a family—that makes her such a powerful leader for her party and perhaps the toughest foil for Trump. When it comes to negotiating, her steady, no BS, indoor-voice demeanor stands in sharp contrast to the President’s shifting positions, name calling, and bluster. And, yes, lessons learned raising her kids seem to be handy right now.
“I’m a mother of 5, grandmother of 9. I know a temper tantrum when I see one,” she commented after a White House negotiating session was reportedly cut short by Trump slamming his fists on the table and walking out.
When Pelosi was first elected speaker in 2006, it was pre-Trump, pre-Women’s March and pre-#metoo. That historic ascendancy to become the first female Speaker of the House shattered a glass ceiling. This year as she took back the gavel, the glass felt less ceiling, more “break for emergency.” Maybe the most powerful elected woman in office can change minds about what it means to be an older woman. In her quiet, powerful and elegant way, Speaker Pelosi may make age (and gender and motherhood) an asset for women in offices everywhere.