By Nick Gillespie
This just in: Nancy Pelosi is the second-best speaker of the past 100 years according to "historians and nonpartisan political observers." And she's still got a couple of months to go!
My first thought was, "What the f**K are you historians and nonpartisan political observers smoking? And can I get some?" My second thought was, "When your competition is Dennis Hastert, second place is not really a compliment." And my third thought was, "Is it the weekend yet? I need a break from snap-judgments of history, especially now that the last sane, unbiased voice in American journalism has been suspended indefinitely from MSNBC. I mean, for god's sake, we've finally lost our innocence as a country at long last. Keith Olbermann's suspension is the Kennedy assassination, the Moon Shot, and the Dred Scott decision of our time all rolled into one. Except this time it really hurts."
And my fourth thought was, "These sorts of s**t-for-brain stories are exactly why you should be supporting Reason Foundation, the nonprofit publisher of this website, Reason magazine, and Reason.tv with donations that are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. For god's sake, a $100 contribution nets you more swag than you'd get at the Oscars! And think of all the thousands of blog posts, hundreds of videos, and dozens of feature articles Reason staffers produce, all the laughter and tears we bring you by articulating an energetic, thoughtful, principled, and relevant libertarian perspective on every topic under the sun!"
Read on, MacDuff:
Voters may have shown their disdain for Pelosi's handiwork, but the list of legislation she saw through in her short time as speaker is long. An economic stimulus bill. Financial regulation. Expanded student aid. An expanded G.I. bill for veterans. And, above all else, health care reform. [Catholic University's Matthew] Green calls it her "single greatest legislative achievement."
"Pelosi almost single-handedly pushed the bill through the House in its final stages, lobbying reluctant lawmakers up to the final minutes to vote for it," Green said. "Without her leadership, the bill very likely would have died."
Even Reason contributor Jack Pitney gives her high marks for gittin things done:
John Pitney, a former Republican House aide who now teaches at Claremont McKenna College in California, agrees that Pelosi deserves major credit for the historic legislation.
"After the election of Scott Brown, many people in the Washington community thought the measure was dead," he said. "She refused to give up and was determined to see it through. The measure faced strong political resistance, and many Democrats were very reluctant to vote for it. Through a combination of persuasion and pressure, she pushed it over the line."
Which isn't to say that our man Pitney is a Pelosi pushover:
Pitney rates Pelosi as a "highly effective" legislator. He said her "centralization of power fits the mold" of 19th century Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed. The Maine Republican's "Reed's Rules" strengthened majority party power by doing away with Senate-style stalling tactics and "did much to shape the institution of the House that we know today," Pitney said. "But in her political radioactivity, she is more like Newt Gingrich."