Nancy Pelosi has always played her political cards very close to her chest.
Which makes what she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday about her own political future all the more important.
Here’s the exchange:
Cooper: I’m not asking what the decision is. I’m just asking, have you looked ahead? And have you made the decision in your mind, whatever that decision might be?
Pelosi: Well, I have to say, my decision will be affected about what happened the last week or two.
Cooper: Will it be – will your decision be impacted by the attack in any way?
Which, well, is a very big deal.
And, on a very human level, makes perfect sense. Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband was attacked with a hammer in their home by a man who was searching for her. Paul Pelosi suffered a fractured skull and required surgery.
To hear Nancy Pelosi describe how she found out about the attack is harrowing.
“I was sleeping in Washington, DC,” she said. “I had just gotten in the night before from San Francisco. … I hear the doorbell ring, and I think, it’s five something – I look up, I see it’s five. Who – it must be the wrong apartment. No. It rings again, and then, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang on the door. So I run to the door, and I was very scared. I see the Capitol Police. And they said, ‘We have to come in to talk to you.’”
In this age of politics, we tend to forget that politicians are people too. And what Pelosi describes is the sort of thing that would make any of us reexamine our life choices.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that she will be leaving office or even leaving her role as the top Democrat in the House if Republicans retake the majority in the midterm elections.
Pelosi has been through this cycle before. Following the 2010 wave election that swept Democrats out of the House majority, there were some within the party who called for her to step aside. She resisted those calls and stayed on as House minority leader, positioning herself to, again, be chosen as speaker once Democrats won back control of the House in the 2018 election.
But, she is 12 years older now than she was after that 2010 election. And she is dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event in her household.
I’ve stopped predicting what Pelosi will do in the future because she has proven me wrong so many times in the past – demonstrating a political resilience and appeal that few leaders (in either party) have ever been able to match.
But I do think her latest comments about the attack on her husband suggest that Pelosi’s calculation will be different in the wake of this election. It won’t be solely a political one. It will be a human one, too.