Matt Towery

Democrat powerhouse Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has already handed the GOP the first of what could be a cornucopia of ill-conceived proposals through which the Democrats will try to retake the White House in 2008.

Rangel likes the sound of his own voice. The soon-to-be chairman of the powerful Ways and Means committee sounded off recently about his planned legislation to resurrect the military draft. You don't have to be a pollster to know how monumentally unpopular this would be.

Such a bill would never even receive a committee vote, much less reach the floor of the House for a vote. Why? Because new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won't allow such a politically destructive concept to take wings. Yes, that Pelosi. Liberal -- San Francisco liberal -- Pelosi.

In 1998, as a close associate of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, I had virtually unlimited access to all members of Congress. In researching my book of that year, "Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America," I had observed Pelosi closely.

While I disagreed with much of her politics, I nevertheless believed that she and she alone seemed likely to lead the Democrats if they ever took majority control again. So I wrote as much, following a very personable interview with her.

I recently went back and dusted off the book. I'd written, "The concept of 'Madame Speaker' or 'the distinguished lady from California, the minority leader,' is no longer far-fetched."

I cite this passage not to nominate myself as a psychic seer, but to caution conservatives not to interpret Pelosi's ascension as only blind luck falling her way. They perhaps should look elsewhere for easy targets to attack. The growing belief that Pelosi will be the poster-woman for Democratic failure may be wrong.

In my conversations with her nearly a decade ago, I learned that she is a political pragmatist, even as she is acutely aware that she represents a decidedly liberal congressional district. She will search for common ground -- with public opinion, if not with the GOP.

And she's tough. Her fund-raising prowess is legendary. She's willing to take risks. She's also willing to stand up to "the boys," and she takes pride in that independent streak. She's also a nice person. Interestingly, she made no secret that she aspired to her party's top post in Congress.

Already Speaker Pelosi has been questioned for backing a man for majority leader who was subsequently voted down by the Democrats. But she was smart to snuff out on the vine any notions by some liberal members of her caucus to immediately plan investigations of President Bush with the end goal of impeaching him.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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