Is it fair game to ask Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi whether she’s too old to go for the job again?
Pelosi, the House Representative from San Francisco, is 72 years old. Her two deputies, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is 73 and her Assistant Leader, James Clyburn is 72.
Politico today characterized Pelosi’s response as “testy” to the question from NBC’s Luke Russert. At yesterday’s presser, where she announced her decision to seek the leadership again, he posed the question: “Some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long run. What’s your response?”
Take a look at the video:
Now let’s hear from Michael Yaki, the former San Francisco Supervisor who was a senior advisor for seven years to Pelosi. He wrote us this week, with some thoughts on Pelosi’s work — and her decision to go for the House Minority Leadership post again:
1. Not surprised, but also not surprised she wanted a little time to survey the political landscape after the election
2. It was clear that the election was quite blue, and the pick-ups they made were good, some of the losses were surprises that they can win back.
3. Nancy has a great sense of duty and obligation to her Party and to the nation; I believe that she sees that the next two years are a critical time where her leadership and institutional knowledge are critical to not only helping the President’s agenda, but anchoring the liberal/progressive position in shaping the agenda. No one else does it as well or as fiercely.
4. Must be quite a disappointment to all the pretenders who were busy taking our their nomination papers in San Francisco.
Hmmmmmmm. But back to Russert’s question — is she really standing in the way of the younger crowd?
It prompted a flood of boos from the crowd of female House Democrats flanking Pelosi Wednesday and one of them — Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the New York Democrat, 66 — even started yelling, “Discrimination! Discrimination! Discrimination!”
Pelosi laughed it off — at first. “Oh, you always ask that question, except to Mitch McConnell,” she told Russert.
Then, she got serious when Russert didn’t give up.
“So you’re suggesting that everybody step aside? … Let’s for a moment honor it as a legitimate question, although it’s quite offensive. But you don’t realize that, I guess.”
And the Minority Leader argued that, instead of standing in the way of younger members, she’s done much in her quarter of a century of service to promote them — particularly women — on the Hill.
“I came to Congress when my youngest child, Alexandra, was a senior in high school, practically on her way to college,” Pelosi began. “I knew that my male colleagues had come when they were 30. They had a jump on me because they didn’t have children. I did what i wanted to do, I was blessed to have that opportunity to sequentially raise my family and then come to Congress, but I wanted women to be here in greater numbers at an earlier age, so that their seniority would start to count much sooner.
More Pelosi: “It wasn’t confined to women, although we wanted to keep bringing in younger people and some of the decisions that we made over the years to invest when we won the House in 2006 and races before and since was to encourage people to come.”
“So I don’t have any concern about that, and as I’ve always said to you, you’ve got to take off about 14 years from me because I was home raising a family, getting the best experience of all — diplomacy, interpersonal skills.”
Bottom line: “The answer is no.”
Fair game, or “discrimination” to ask her the question? You decide.