After Republican Scott Brown's surprise Senate victory on January 19th, many Democrats believed that health care reform was dead. Democrats were discouraged and demoralized; the days that followed brought news of Democrats who were not going to run for reelection and the Obama Administration seemed defeated. Nonetheless, two months later the House passed the Senate health care bill and Democrats have new vigor. The person responsible for this turnaround was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Recently, Pelosi has been the subject of egregious conservative attack ads that depict her as a harpy: a grasping, unscrupulous female monster intending to rip away the hard-earned wages of American families. While nothing could be further from the truth -- Pelosi in person is a warm, gracious woman who, as a mother and grandmother, cares deeply about working-class Americans -- these ads do allude to the Speaker's inherent toughness.
Many things can be said about this complex woman but no one has ever called her a quitter. Pelosi has pragmatic intelligence coupled with a vast amount of political experience. But, above all, she has tenacity. Those who know her compare her to the Energizer Bunny; Pelosi never stops working.
Winston Churchill famously observed, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." In the dark days after the Scott Brown victory, it was Nancy Pelosi who found the courage to continue the fight for health care reform.
The next few weeks will see the Senate wrestle health care reform through the reconciliation process and it could be a while before President Obama signs the final law. Nonetheless, on March 21st the essential elements of health care reform became a reality. While many people share responsibility for this accomplishment, the person who stands head and shoulder above the rest is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was her perseverance, coupled with a heartfelt commitment to do the right thing for America's families that resurrected health care reform.