2009 Blog Posts Politics and Leadership

Nancy Pelosi’s Smile

I read an article about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi this evening that reminded me of an encounter I had with her a couple years ago at a San Francisco restaurant. The article focused on her dominant position at the pinnacle of power in Washington, D.C., and the scowl she leveled on Joe Washington when he yelled “You Lie!” at President Barack Obama during his recent congressional address.

The article also addressed her skill at crafting coalitions composed of disparate groups of legislators in order to get legislation passed. Her extraordinary skill at performing this aspect of her highly complex job is one of the primary reasons why members of the conservative establishment are perpetrating a massive smear campaign designed to beat her up, and tear her down.

I am pleased she is standing her ground, and proving more than equal to the task of inexorably transforming the nation’s domestic and international agenda, and thereby moving the nation ever so slightly, month after month. in a progressive direction.

As a San Francisco resident, I want to note that she is a local hero. More than any of her political peers, she represents the finest aspirations and traditions of San Francisco liberalism. Given that, the people of this city will return her to Washington to take care of business as long as she wants to go there and represent us in such an extraordinarily distinguished manner. That said; this post is about her smile.

I was having lunch at the French bistro Le Central a couple years ago with an artist friend from Beijing when I got the strong impression that someone was channeling my attention. I was engrossed in conversation at the time about the art of rapidly building a huge personal fortune in the Chinese art market, so I ignored the intrusive notion that I ought to relinquish my attention on the words flowing from the narcissistic lips of my vastly self-impressed companion.

But the urge to address the intrusive notion was so strong that I got my companion to pause for a moment by asking her to check her watch for the time. While she perused her watch, I looked up and began to scan the room from a point just behind my companion’s head. The first thing I noticed was an elegant woman, impeccably dressed, looking in my direction. I quickly scanned the room behind me in order to confirm the object of her attention. There was no one behind me.

She was looking directly at me, and the broad, friendly, smile on her face was meant for me. When it was clear to her that I knew she was smiling at me, she nodded warmly in my direction. I reciprocated with a smile, and a slight nod in her direction. She was Nancy Pelosi.

With that, she stepped forward, slid gracefully into a chair at a table, and began to address the gentleman accompanying her. My companion simultaneously announced the time, and then resumed her commentary regarding the alleged reasons why great artists get wealthy, and inferior ones don’t. Being a gentleman, I declined to note the possibility that, in her case, political patronage might be a more definitive source of artistic success than any of her alleged associations with genius.

In any event, for the remainder of the meal my mind floated back and forth between the excellent food, my companion’s comments, and that bedeviling smile flashed at me from the other side of the room.

I don’t even know Nancy Pelosi. But I have reason to believe she is a really nice lady.

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Robert Terrell

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