Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power Book Review

To be a woman in politics is to have a backbone made of steel. It requires courage, strength, an incredibly brilliant mind, and the ability to navigate through the bullshit.

Nancy Pelosi has done this and so much more. She has broken barriers, become a controversial figure, and stood toe to toe with some of the most notorious political figures of our era. Her biography, Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power, by Susan Page, was published earlier this year. Pelosi was born in Baltimore, the youngest child, and only daughter in a prominent Italian-American family. Though she was raised in an era in which girls were boxed in, her mother encouraged her to color outside of the lines.

Moving to California after marrying, Pelosi only got into politics after her children were grown. Starting at the local level, she climbed up the ladder with a shrewd mind and an understanding of the game. Page spends most of the book examining her career and the challenges (especially when going against you know who) that she has come against. Diving into the details of the last few decades, the woman we meet is one who does not shrink when coming against a man who thinks that he knows better than her.

I enjoyed this book. The reader is introduced to Pelosi as the whole woman, not just the image on the evening news. She is thoroughly human in a way that I found relatable and inspirational. Pelosi may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you cannot deny that what she has accomplished is exceptional and admirable. We need more women in this world like Nancy Pelosi.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power is available wherever books are sold.

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At Least Last Night’s Vice Presidential Debate was Civil

In the world of Presidential elections, some might argue that the debate between the Vice Presidential nominees is not as consequential as the Presidential debates. But I disagree with that. For some voters, the choice of Vice President can be a make or break decision as to who they will support and/or vote for. It is also important because if the President cannot do his or her job, the Vice President steps into the role.

Last night, Vice Presidential nominees Mike Pence and Kamala Harris had their turn to debate the issues. If there is only one thing to say about the debate, it is that it was at least civil. There was nary a hint of the possibility of a knock down, drag out fight.

That being said, I was reminded once more why Trump and Pence have to go. Though moderator Susan Page did a better job of keeping the nominees under control, she was still interrupted multiple times by the Vice President. Who, by the way, is a hypocrite and a liar. The fly landing on his head and remaining there for several minutes was the best part of the evening.

If there was one thing I was impressed by, it was how Senator Harris kept her cool. She wore what can only be described as a patient smile, firmly stating the facts and reminding the Vice President when he cut in on her time. Her years as a prosecutor showed, she had the restraint of a parent who was waiting for their toddler to stop their tantrum.

The fact is that after nearly four years of chaos and divisiveness, we need a President and an administration who can actually lead this country. You know who and his team have failed multiple times over, that failure has a ripple effect that will go well beyond their time in office. We need Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to bring us back to a state of normalcy, a state of decency, and do what the voters actually hired them to do.

#BidenHarris2020

P.S. I can’t wait to see what Saturday Night Live will do this weekend. If the cold open was anything like last weekend, it will be the perfect antidote to political the shit show that we are going through.

The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty Book Review

When I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, the late former First Lady Barbara Bush looked like a grandmother straight out of Hollywood central casting. Her white hair was cut short, she was known for her pearls and matronly clothing and she was the matriarch of a large family. But there is so much more to her than the image.

Susan Page’s new biography, The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, tells the story of Mrs. Bush from her perspective. Born in 1925 to a wealthy family whose roots went back to the founding of America, she was the third of four children. Equally belittled and ignored by her mother about her weight, the future First Lady never got over the comments she received as a child.

In her late teens, she married the future President George H.W. Bush. Married for seven decades, she brought six children into the world. Her oldest son, George W. Bush, followed in his father’s footsteps. Her oldest daughter, Robin, died of Leukemia at age three, leaving her mother with an emotional scar that never healed. Later as an adult, she battled depression and aided both her husband and son during their time in the White House.

Containing interviews with Mrs. Bush, President Bush, her family, political aides, press clippings, diary entries and other details, this books is the complete story of one of America’s most respected First Ladies.

One of the things that I was surprised about was how emotionally strong and outspoken Mrs. Bush was. Like many women of her generation, her adult life focused on her home and her family. But unlike the Donna Reed-like ideal of the 1950’s and 1960’s, Mrs. Bush was not the yes-woman to her husband nor was she the picture of motherly perfection. She was bold, she was outspoken and not above providing unsolicited advice. She may not have been a traditional feminist, but she is the definition of a strong, intelligent and capable woman.

This book is a must read, especially if one is a political junkie. It sheds light not just on the public side of Mrs. Bush, but also the private that only a few were privileged to see.

I recommend it.

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