About how she was used this year as a political pinata, she is philosophical. Republicans always look for a liberal they can target, she said, and for decades, the choice was the late Edward M. Kennedy. What was done to her, she says, “was almost chicken feed” by comparison. “Now they didn’t have him,” she adds. “To some extent they did this with Mrs. Clinton for a while.” And then Pelosi performs the political math. “Now you take a woman and a progressive and you put it together. . .”

She stops, and breaks out laughing. She won’t say it herself, but points to her former colleague Martin Frost’s observation that a woman from liberal San Francisco was the ideal Republican target. “I don’t think they could have done this to a male speaker,” Frost told USA Today…

“Because I’m effective,” she answers matter-of-factly. “It’s why they had to do it. They had to put a stop to me because we were effective in passing health-care reform, which the health insurance industry wanted to stop; Wall Street reform, which Wall Street wanted to stop; [reforms of] students loans for taking the money out of the banks and giving it back to the taxpayer and to families.”