Christina Cauterucci said it best in Slate yesterday:
Memes that lionize women in power are great for building enthusiasm in a time of Trump-related demoralization, but they tend to flatten their subjects into caricatures. For female politicians, whose idiosyncratic assets and flaws are already susceptible to fading away under both sexist attacks and feminist pushback to those attacks, meme-ification is even more likely to paint a reductive portrait of a singular leader. The finely tuned body language Pelosi exhibited at the State of the Union may help some of her critics understand her political strengths. Her actual policy positions should inform those who stan for her, too.
Please folks, don’t do stuff like this. She’s a politician, not a demigod.
Nancy Pelosi is undoubtedly one of the most skilled and effective politicians of her generation. Comparing her competency to Chuck Schumer is like watching me play one-on-one with LeBron James. The last forty years have largely been one long humiliation for liberalism, and Pelosi is one of the very few examples that you could cite where powerful Democrats have proven to occasionally represent their grassroots instead of the oligarchy that has Chuck Schumer's balls stored in an attic somewhere.
But she has not always represented the grassroots of the Democratic Party, as demonstrated by her scoffing quote today at the most ambitious policy proposal of our lifetime that was just introduced to congress: the Green New Deal.
Per the Democratic Speaker of the House:
”It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive. The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is but they're for it right?”
Given that this legislation was submitted under her purview, she's either mocking it or demonstrating a supreme amount of ignorance of her job by calling it the “green dream.” It should also be noted that 2020 presidential contenders Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders are all co-sponsoring the bill that Pelosi clearly thinks so little of.
On the whole, the last forty years of Democratic policymaking have been an abject failure (its embrace of conservative economic policies has helped bring the literal apocalypse upon us), and Nancy Pelosi is one of the most powerful Democratic politicians of the last forty years. There is a lot of nuance in her record, and reducing her to a screenshot of a sarcastic clap at President Spray Tan does both a disservice to her accomplishments and her faults, as we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if we do not learn from them.
This kind of shit from The Root is beyond unhelpful:
Can we just go ahead and admit that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is officially the Suge Knight of Capitol Hill?
How the hell is she like Suge Knight? She got Tupac killed in Vegas?
If you watched last night's State of the Union address, you saw the Congressional OG show up with her gang in tow, wearing their colors and ready to drag your little “president” to hell if they needed to. With her army in white behind her, Fancy Pelosi (her gang name) sat behind the “president” as he gave his address, smirking at times and raising her eyebrows at others when he exaggerated or told an obvious lie.
This paragraph is the distillation of everything that's wrong with Democratic politics. Instead of reckoning with the fact that politicians are simply tools to achieve policy outcomes that should better our lives, we get a caricature like Fancy Pelosi who is valued because of purely symbolic gestures. This next sentence was where I set my computer on fire.
Keep in mind that the only reason Donald Trump was able to give his little speech in the first place is because the “Last O.G.” gave him permission to.
Yes, technically this is true. Presidents cannot give State of the Unions to congress without the Speaker's permission, but come on, it's not like she was going to deny him a State of the Union after he agreed to her bill to end the shutdown.
Also, the “Last O.G.”??? What the hell does that even mean?
The central split in the Democratic Party is not between “centrists” and “Bernie Bros,” but those who look at politicians through the lens of policy versus those who prioritize style over substance. The latter group leads us to cults of personality that emphasize one image over policy outcomes in order to define a politician’s worth. This is the Aaron Sorkin mode of politics that defined liberalism’s failures of the last 40 years, and it barely worked to achieve good policy outcomes in his fictional TV show, The West Wing (it should be noted that Sorkin is also notorious for substituting caricatures for substantive portrayals of women).
Given that we find ourselves in a short-term position where combating a legitimately evil Republican administration is far more realistic than passing ambitious, liberal legislation, we need a fighter sitting atop the Democratic Party. Nancy Pelosi is the right figure for this moment, but her policy positions have proven that her policies have not been up to the gargantuan task in front of us. Scientists are nearly unanimous on this fact: we need to do something completely unprecedented in human history over the next 12 years, or else we will all die on a planet that is incredibly hostile to life as we know it. If you find yourself emphasizing Pelosi’s (admittedly awesome) sarcastic clap towards Trump over her policy positions, then you may find yourself adhering to the cult of personality-driven mindset that helped get us into this mess in the first place.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.