Will Nancy Pelosi Remember Her Populist Roots?

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“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” [1]

Baltimore, MD – One of six children, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (nee D’Alesandro), age 66, grew up in this city’s charming “Little Italy” area. Her modest family home at the corner of Albemarle and Fawn Streets is surrounded by about ten blocks of even smaller homes and a cluster of restaurants. It is also just a short hop to the R.C. parish school and church, St. Leo’s, she once attended. Pelosi was back in town, on Friday, Jan. 5, 2007, to be honored at an afternoon ceremony renaming part of Albemarle St., “Via Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi.” The choir from her old high school, the Institute of Notre Dame, was on hand to entertain the modest crowd, along with a local band, “The Matchmakers.” The San Francisco, CA-based Democrat (8th District) also wanted to launch her role as the first female Speaker of the House by returning to her populist roots.

Pelosi said: “There is a lot of history here today. We are encircled by it…My parents didn’t raise me to be Speaker of the House…They raised me to do the right thing. They raised me to recognize that we have a responsibility to people in need. They [my parents] worked on the side of the angels.” The platform that she spoke from was located just opposite her former home. Supporters in the audience cheered her every remark. Many of them were ex-neighbors. Two protesters were spotted at the event. They carried signs demanding the impeachment of the warmongering Vice-President, Dick Cheney.

As Pelosi prepares to take center stage, the Establishment has just finished holding a state funeral for a seriously flawed politician–Gerald Ford. As President in 1974, he pardoned that crook Richard Nixon. [2] Outraged voters refused to elect Ford in 1976, turning instead to the Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter. Questions: Will Pelosi learn from Ford’s failure and avoid his electoral fate? Will she bring to full account the two Antichrists, who have run our Republic into the ground, President George W. Bush and V. P. Dick Cheney? [3] Impeachment proceedings, under the U.S. Constitution, must begin in the House of Representatives. It acts as a Grand Jury with the power to indict a wrongdoer. The U.S. Senate then sits in judgment on the accused.

Pelosi’s late father, Tommy “The Elder” D’Alesandro, like the legendary Richard Daley of Chicago, was a former congressman and three times mayor of the city (1947-59). One of her brothers, Tommy “The Younger” D’Alesandro, also served as mayor, but for only one term (1967-71). [4] He served as the master of ceremonies for the affair. Pelosi’s father, undoubtedly, had a major influence on her. As mayor, he was a fighter, who stood up for his working class constituents and never forgot where he came from.

Pelosi continued with her improvised remarks: “I was raised in a family that was devoutly Catholic, deeply patriotic and extremely proud of our Italian-American heritage, and in our case, staunchly Democratic. They [my parents] told us that public service was a noble calling…We must work for the public good for all people.”

Things have changed, however, since Pelosi left home in the early 60s for the West Coast. Once a Democratic stronghold, her old precinct No. 3, (Ward 3), in “Little Italy” only carried the Democratic gubernatorial ticket by a 250 to 178 margin over the GOP standard bearers, on Nov. 7, 2006. In its heyday, you would have been lucky to find a handful of Republicans supporters there. The growing rich/poor divide is also much in evidence from the front stoop of her former residence. [5] The neighborhood is close to the glitzy Inner Harbor. The community is going through a period of rapid revitalization. Its working class origins are now mostly hidden from view as the surrounding warehouses are being converted into upscale apartments and condos. Public housing on its north side was recently bulldozed and replaced by pricey townhouses. Hotels are rising nearby quicker than you can say: Johnny Unitas! Across the harbor sits a fast yuppifying Locust Point area, with Fort McHenry, birthplace of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” as its sentinel. [6] The condo fees for one planned waterfront site, near Federal Hill, are reportedly a Manhattan-like–$7,000 a month!

“Women in this neighborhood,” Pelosi insisted, “were very strong.” Her late mother, Nancy Lombardi D’Alesandro, is an example of that fact. She is remembered by many in the area, as a source of strength and inspiration for the family, and to her daughter in particular. She pushed her only daughter to get a good education. Her mother was also a very big help in keeping her husband’s political future on track during some pretty rocky episodes. It wasn’t easy for an Italian Catholic to be mayor in a city then dominated by a mostly pompous WASP elite. This elite also then controlled the print media in town. I got the impression that they, (the WASP elite, with their private clubs and Old Boys network), were always looking to indict Mayor D’Alesandro on some bogus charge and/or to unfairly smear his reputation. In any event, local lore has it that Pelosi’s mother was so tough, she was of Sicilian stock–that she once decked a precinct worker who got too pushy with her.

There was one big negative for me at the ceremony. It was the presence of that dubious liberal, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), on the platform. She has consistently voted to fund the Iraqi War and even to endorse Israel’s Apartheid/Annexation Wall (S. Res. 408). Meanwhile, she has also done the truly unforgivable: voted for the draconian USA Patriot Act. Shame on Mikulski!

“I wanted to come back here,” Pelosi said, “to say ‘thank you’ to all of you for the spirit of community that has always strengthened and inspired my life that started here. Every step I took to the Speakership began in this neighborhood…Italian immigrants built America. They were told: ‘The streets were paved in gold.’ And when they got here, they found out that they were going to be paving the streets…The Italian-American contribution [to America] has been one that we’re very, very proud of.” Quoting from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of her adopted hometown, San Francisco, CA, Pelosi concluded her comments by saying that she is committed to making “the future better.”

After the event, I had a chance to talk with the Democratic Majority Leader in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). I asked him what the new Congress was going to do about Iraq. He replied: “We’re going to have to give it serious thought and figure out how we’re going to get our troops out of harm’s way, and to turn over responsibility to the Iraqis. This President’s [George W. Bush] suggestion of ‘surging’–they have tried that and it has not worked. We really need to make a transition. That is what the American people think we need to do. That is what the vote was all about in November and we are going to work towards that end.” Pelosi is on record rejecting Bush’s surge scheme as “flawed.” She is demanding a “political solution” in Iraq and a “phased withdrawal of American forces.” [7]

The American people spoke on Nov. 7, 2006. Their agenda has two main prongs to it. First: Bring the troops home from Iraq, now. Second: Punish the liars who got us into this mess. [8] The people want a peace, not a troop, surge. [9] As Speaker of the House, Pelosi will have a solemn duty to bring Bush and Cheney, via impeachment proceedings, to the Bar of Justice. Meanwhile, in her own backyard, in San Francisco, a “Pelosi Watchdog” group, led by Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin, has been formed to support her in maintaining an agenda that is Constitutionally mandated. [10]

Finally, will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remember her populist roots from her Baltimore days or pull a Gerald Ford? (11) The jury is out. Stay tuned for the verdict!

Notes:

[1]. It’s an old European proverb.

[2]. http://www.watergate.info/ford/pardon.shtml

[3]. http://impeachpac.org/ and
http://www.pdamerica.org/

[4]. Two of Pelosi’s five brothers, Joseph and Hector, have predeceased her.

[5]. http://www.lcurve.org/ and
http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/
wealth_distribution1999.html

[6]. I grew up on Locust Point, across the harbor from “Little Italy,” in South Baltimore. In and after the WWII era, it was a unrepentant bastion of trade unionists. There were then five International Longshoremen’s Association, (ILA), union halls on the Point. During this halcyon period for working class solidarity, it wasn’t unusual to see a photo of the great John L. Lewis of the UMWA displayed on a wall in one of the local pubs. That kind of scene was replicated as well in East Baltimore, Mayor D’Alesandro’s prime political base.

[7]. http://www.house.gov/pelosi/press/
releases/Jan07/Iraq.html

[8]. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/ and
http://batr.net/neoconwatch/

[9]. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/16769

[10]. http://www.counterpunch.org/nader12302006.html

[11]. Gerald Ford was also involved, as a member of the Warren Commission, in the cover-up of the murder of our martyred President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. See,
http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=19071

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