“Let’s for the moment honor it as a legitimate question although it’s quite offensive but you don’t realize it, I guess.” — Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
That was Nancy Pelosi yesterday responding to a sexist question by NBC reporter Luke Russert. Russert’s exact question, at Pelosi’s announcement that she was not stepping down as House Minority Leader went as follows:
“Some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long term,” he said. “What’s your response?”
Apparently, Russert didn’t take the hint from the chorus of boos from the women standing behind Pelosi that he was off track, so he continued on,
“No, excuse me,” he said. “You, Mr. Hoyer, Mr. Clyburn, you’re all over 70. Is your decision to stay on prohibiting younger members for moving forward?”
Pelosi correctly slapped him down citing the fact that he has never asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that question. McConnell is also over 70 years old. The idea that it’s appropriate to ask Pelosi something so ageist and not ask the same question of the men in Congress who are also old is par for the course unfortunately.
Men are hardly ever asked to “step aside” and make room for new leadership. Women are always expected to “make way” for “younger” folks, which usually means younger men in Russert’s age group, who are eager to move up the ranks of leadership in the Congress. Male politicians literally stay in office until they die. Why is it that when a woman who has worked her way up through the ranks to reach a position of power, like Pelosi the most successful Speaker in history in my opinion, must get out of the way? The most effective Speaker and progressive champion is supposed to step aside? Please.