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The Pelosi House Appraisal

Dear Nancy: 

2021 will soon gasp its last breath, providing you a timely opportunity to reflect on the year’s merciful conclusion and sketch out a to-do list for 2022: 

Lessons Learned in 2021:

Dump the self-pitying email pitches for cash, you sound like a hawker at a county fair. You also make an exceptionally poor victim, and giving Democrats the idea that a $15 donation will cure the country’s ills reinforces the electorate’s growing suspicion that our electeds are bought and sold to the highest bidder. Money really isn’t everything, despite your whiney email messages to the contrary. 

Forget about January 6. No rational person believes that a bunch of costumed and feathered trespassers constituted a serious threat to a federal government armed to the teeth with enough surplus wartime weaponry to kill us all many times over. If you want to see a real insurrection look no further than the mullahs ruling Afghanistan─or, for that matter, the colonists who defeated the British back in the mid-eighteenth century.  

Lose the color-coordinated face masks. You’re not on the runway. Wear the plain paper masks that normal people wear. Everybody knows you can afford designer masks for all your outfits. Why flaunt it?

Stop calling the U.S. House of Representatives “my house.” You live in a mansion on Millionaire’s Row in the latté-Democratic stronghold of San Francisco. That’s your house.

Stop calling Democrats “my Democrats.” You’re not my family. There’s no genetic lineage here; this isn’t Downton Abbey.

Stop harping on Trump’s tax returns, it only strengthens his clueless supporters’ beliefs that you’re picking on him; in case you haven’t noticed, they hate you. When the IRS completes its work and confirms our suspicions that Trump is indeed officially a crook, take a bow and crow about it then. 

Take time every day to stroll among Californians who live light years outside of your own gilded orbit. Officiating at the Getty granddaughter’s wedding doesn’t count.

Cursing Mitch McConnell nonstop was a bad thing. I know it’s tempting to call out the man’s boneheaded world view; he voted seven times against increasing the minimum wage while representing one of the nation’s poorest states, which incidentally is also one of the country’s largest recipients of federal aid. Nevertheless, civility never goes out of style, however rocky the high road appears.

Priorities for 2022:

Harping about social issues needs to take a hard back seat to reversing income inequality, which is the real foundation of the mess we’re in. This will be difficult since mostly-rich people in Congress will have to vote against their own financial interests but it’s our only hope. We know your hubby made upwards of $5 million last year as the small businesses you supposedly represent withered and died in the wake of the pandemic, but vote against his (and your) interests, anyway. FDR was rich himself but understood that only drastic wealth restructuring could heal the nation the last time 1-percenters owned the country. It’s the litmus test for true patriotism.

Work your fingers to the bone to meaningfully shore up public education and staunch the flow of wealthy kids to private schools, depriving the public schools of federal attendance funds and widening the gap between the children of the rich and everybody else’s kids. Figure out a way to pay teachers what they deserve so their pay isn’t dependent on counties wrung dry by inadequate federal income tax revenue, courtesy of both the inexplicably popular Ronald Reagan and Prop 13. Do this with commitment and passion instead of quibbling over how textbooks should address race. There was plenty about the evils of slavery in my textbooks back in the bad ol’ late 50s and early 60s when I was reading about it (in public schools). Everybody knows the U.S. was and continues to be racist.  

Forget about gun control; it’s a lost cause. There are more guns than people in this country and guns last forever. My father’s carbine from World War Twice (his term) still shoots just fine more than 75 years after its last official duties. Looking to countries like Canada, with high gun ownership and a fraction of the U.S. murder rate, the problem clearly encompasses more than the instruments themselves. Focus instead on the (admittedly) thornier problem of what is stoking the desire of alienated young men to randomly go out and kill people.  

Break the mold and admit that Democrats and Republicans together created the pickle we’re in. Obama on his watch rewarded the crooks responsible for the economic meltdown (Iceland sent them to prison.), at the expense of homeowners; Clinton packed the country’s prisons, mostly with young black men, with his draconian anti-crime policies. Both parties perpetuated the misery of the war in Afghanistan. There’s blood on the hands of both the red and the blue. So admit this obvious fact and, however distasteful, resist the imperative of your bruised ego when Republicans attack you. Choose instead to focus on the big picture; work to form partnerships with your political foes. We’re thankfully not (yet) to the point where congressional electeds jump out of their seats to pummel one another, though we’re probably closer than we think. 

Practice what you preach and become truly color blind. Purge references to race and gender from your vocabulary. When a non-white woman is elected to a position don’t crow about her ethnicity or gender before her actual accomplishments and qualifications. This misguided contemporary emphasis on “diversity” only fuels trumpian outrage and energizes his supporters by creating the false impression that white men are the newest oppressed minority. It also denigrates the honest successes of minorities by leaving the impression that they were chosen or promoted solely because they weren’t white men. Biden was unfortunately one of the worst offenders of this when he declared that he would choose “a woman of color” as his running mate. So he ended up with Kamala Harris, who could well end up as the most ineffective (to say nothing of the most unpopular) VP in recent memory. The VP position is largely diplomatic. If he had asked my opinion I would have advised him against considering prosecutors of any race or gender since they are in their hearts and minds essentially cops.    

As a bona fide one-percenter worth over $100 million you are in a unique position to lead the charge against deference to the rich. The 2012 STOCK Act, which prohibits insider trading for members of Congress, is apparently going unenforced. reported that, in rare cases where a fine is actually levied, the standard penalty is just 200 bucks, not enough to pay for your hair highlights. And don’t ever use the stock market as a measure of prosperity. While a little more than half of Americans own some stock, the wealthiest 10 percent own 89 percent of it.

Embrace the emerging New Left before it runs over you. FDR would view you as a right-leaning moderate inadequate to the task of meaningful change. Understand, to the pointy tips of your red-soled Christian Louboutin pumps, that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the unstoppable future if things keep going the way they are. Never utter the words socialism or socialist unless it’s to accurately describe Social Security or Medicare. When the rich rail against “socialism” it’s only to protect and grow their money. Don’t buy into the rhetoric. Greed is by its nature insatiable. 

Finally, sad to say, it’s high time (even past time), for you to retire. Don’t pull a Bader-Ginsburg and cling to the temptations of the limelight on your deathbed. The Supreme Court is as numerically conservative as it is because, despite Obama’s urgings, she just couldn’t give it up. 

Happy New Year!


  1. James Hamlin January 14, 2022

    Good column! I read an article you wrote in 2017 about a particular mobile home park just outside Ukiah, I really appreciated it.

    • J.W. Grimes January 15, 2022

      Once again Marilyn Devin in her compelling writing style reminds politicians how to behave and not. Last time her target was Governor Newsom after his maskless French Laundry dinner and now its her cogent and biting appraisal of Queen Nancy Pelosi.
      I liked it so much I read it twice.

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