Pelosi dunzo? "Couldn't pay me a billion dollars" to run for speaker again, claims new book

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Will we ever have a time in politics where we won’t have Nancy Pelosi to kick around anymore, to paraphrase Richard Nixon? According to a new book from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, that time may come sooner than you think, but not necessarily for the reasons you’d assume. Punchbowl offers a big preview of This Will Not Pass, due out on May 3, and of Pelosi’s disgust with her caucus and the White House.


Pelosi likely won’t ever get the chance to run for Speaker again anyway, but apparently she wouldn’t want to deign to campaign for the position as she was forced to do in late 2020:

Pelosi resented that she had to “beg” her Democratic colleagues to give her the job as speaker again. “The experience of begging for support was wearing on her. .. Pelosi was the only Democrat in the chamber — the only Democrat alive — who had already served as Speaker, who had shown she could do the legislative arithmetic and twist the necessary arms to get things done. And yet [her fellow Democrats] were making her grovel. ‘At this point in my life, I don’t need this,’ she vented.

“Her victory in holding onto the speakership, ‘seemed like a joyless one.’ Pelosi expressed “her frustration with unusual vehemence that day, discussing her political future in a way she rarely did around colleagues. ‘You couldn’t pay me a billion dollars to run for Speaker again,’ Pelosi said.”

Having to ask people to vote for you by explaining what you will do for them? Quelle horreur! It’s worth noting that Pelosi was also the only Democrat in the chamber to lead her caucus back into the wilderness after her two terms as Speaker and then keep them there for four subsequent cycles. Pelosi gave a sorta-kinda promise to limit herself to two more terms at the top after winning back a majority in 2018, but then she nearly lost the House in 2020 even while Joe Biden narrowly won the presidency — which would have made her perhaps the only Speaker in history to lose the House at the same time the party captured the White House for a first term.


The entitlement of expecting a question-free recoronation under those circumstances is so … Pelosi-esque, no?

Pelosi has apparently grown sick and tired of other aspects of her job as well. There’s no secret that Pelosi has a rivalry going on with The Squad and especially Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but Martin and Burns report that she blames them for alienating Hispanics and Asians over the past year. You won’t believe why, however, and Charles C.W. Cooke couldn’t believe it either:

She’s also ticked off about the progressive hostaging of the infrastructure bill last year, according to Martin & Burns, but Pelosi wasn’t a terribly loud voice for decoupling either. It may have been different behind the scenes, but Pelosi ended up scotching a number of votes on the BIF throughout the summer and fall to keep up the pressure on the Senate and Joe Manchin especially to cave on the Build Back Better progressive spend-o-rama. This looks a bit like blame-throwing after the disastrous consequences of her leadership became impossible to ignore.

Pelosi has some choice words for Biden’s leadership too, especially in his hiring decisions. Pelosi didn’t understand why Biden would choose Xavier Becerra as HHS Secretary, having zero experience at health care in the middle of a pandemic, but also because she knew Becerra and found him unreliable:


The Speaker had worked closely with Becerra in the House and saw him as untrustworthy.

“‘You should know who you’re hiring,’ she chided Ricchetti, according to a person briefed on the conversation. Noting that she was a former colleague of Becerra, and a fellow Californian, she added archly: ‘I may have some valuable information.’”

Pelosi has an equal amount of disdain for Ron Klain as well, who’s running the White House for Biden. On that, Martin and Burns write, Pelosi had plenty of company:

“Not all Democrats shared Biden’s admiration for Klain; some party leaders grumbled about his hard-charging manner and expansive intellectual confidence. The Speaker of the House was one of those Democrats. Late in the 2020 campaign, Pelosi grew openly annoyed when an adviser urged her to consult with Klain about health care legislation. What, she asked, does Ron Klain know about anything?”

Well, what does Pelosi know about anything? Her previous efforts on health care cost her caucus the majority in the aftermath of ObamaCare, let’s not forget, after telling the country they’d only find out what was in it after passing the bill. Klain had spent almost as much time around Washington as Pelosi had, having come to the Bill Clinton White House after the 1992 election, and before that as legislative director for now-Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in 1983-84. Pelosi wouldn’t arrive in Congress for another two sessions in 1987 after a special election to replace the deceased Sala Burton. Not to defend Klain, who certainly appears to have miscalculated on a number of fronts over the past fifteen months, but Pelosi hasn’t done any better.


All of this suggests that Pelosi probably won’t take a seat in the next Congress, even though she’s running for re-election in November. If she hates accountability for her leadership, then she won’t want to face the same questions to stay on as House Minority Leader either — and Pelosi won’t sit still on the back bench either. She’ll want a tribute in January, followed by a haughty departure. And from the sound of this, she won’t miss the House … and none of us will miss her, either.

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