Nancy Pelosi will continue to serve as House minority leader, in part, she said, to do more promotion of women and minorities in Congress.
She made her announcement at a press conference today, surrounded by female members of Congress. There were two very telling moments at today's event. First, watch the video below:
Did you catch that? She chose to answer not the louder, male reporter, but the female reporter. It was a tiny choice, a small moment and it exemplifies why Nancy Pelosi is such a great leader.
Leadership is exercised in decisions large and small. It would have been an easy decision to default to the louder questioner. But instead, she was aware enough, sensitive enough to call upon the female reporter. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi unconsciously saw in her the hopes of all of those young women out there who are talked over in meetings or in the classroom. She saw her, because undoubtedly, she has been her.
Second, when a young male reporter asked about whether she was too old to lead, whether the leadership should give itself up for more junior members, she first noted that no one had asked that question male leaders. Then she calmly explained -- not just to the reporter, but to all those who may not understand -- that often, women don't accrue the necessary seniority for traditional advancement because they are penalized when they decide to spend time raising their families.
Nancy Pelosi was elected to Congress at age 47, after she raised her family. Many of her male counterparts were elected in their thirties, presumably while their wives were raising the families. So of course they had more seniority, at each calendar year in their lives. She didn't regret her choices, but it is one reason why women don't get as many plum assignments -- they don't have the seniority.
So in staying on, she is looking out for those young women coming up, helping redefine seniority and status on her terms. I'm grateful and relieved to know it.
Third, no woman is more vilified by the right than Nancy Pelosi. Republicans use Pelosi as the whipping girl relentlessly, repeatedly, incessantly. Being the object of that much hatred and fear requires a backbone hard as steel and skin thick as a rhinoceros. Nancy Pelosi is 72; she's a grandmother with a large family. She could retire and laugh and read and maybe paint or take up a hobby instead of withstanding the slings and arrows of her antagonists.
But she chose to stay in the arena -- not for herself, but for all of us. For that, I am also grateful.
So I want to thank leader Pelosi for her decision to lead, in things big and small. The thousands of decisions being made every day by Nancy Pelosi and those she inspires will bend the arc of history toward justice, as Bobby Kennedy described it.
So thank you, ma'am, for not taking the easy way out. Thank you for your battle scars. Scars that show you're willing to fight worthy battles on our behalf.
Follow Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JenGranholm