Pelosi was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, second in line to the Presidency; the highest governmental position a woman has ever reached.
Over the past two years, Pelosi has been most effective Democratic leader. Yet she's an unabashed liberal; the most effective progressive voice in Congress.
In the run up to the 2010 mid-term election, Republican specifically targeted Pelosi. They spent an astounding $50 million attacking her. Ran ads ranging from the humorous "attack of the 50-foot Pelosi" to the disgusting ad showing her face at the bottom of a urinal.
As Speaker of the House, Pelosi had two primary tasks. Hold Democrats together in order to advance the President's agenda, and raise money for her fellow congresspeople. She did a superb job at both.
Particularly in 2009, Pelosi moved the full range of the Obama agenda through the House. She was personally responsible for the fact that the 111th Congress was extraordinarily successful. Far more legislation was passed in the House than was passed in the Senate. (While some of the Senate's failure can be blamed on the damnable Senate closure rule which requires the consent of 60 Senators to vote on anything much of it is due to the inability of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get Democratic Senators in line.) The House passed healthcare reform months before the Senate did. The House passed a "cap and trade" bill and the Senate never did. In fact, 420 bills were passed by the House only to die in the Senate.
And Pelosi did her job raising money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. For the campaign cycle, the DCCC outraised its Republican counterpart, the NRCC. The reason why Democrats lost 60 House seats wasn't inadequate DCCC fundraising, it was GOP-affiliated outside groups that spent millions on this election.
All told, Independent political groups spent more than $270 million on the mid-term elections and GOP-affiliated groups raised the overwhelming majority of the funds. Two of these, Karl Rove's Crossroads group and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spent more than $70 million and $32 million respectively. (The watchdog group PUBLIC CITIZEN reported that 59.9 percent of outside funds came from undisclosed sources.)
In October, independent political groups spent an estimated $50 million to change control of 50 Democratic-held House seats. On November 2nd PUBLIC CITIZEN reported that outside spending benefited the winner in 58 of 74 contests where power changed hands.
Nancy Pelosi did her job as "fundraiser in chief" for House Democrats. But she was undone by well-coordinated two-year Republican strategy. The NEW YORK TIMES revealed that House Republican leaders began planning their comeback on January 9, 2009. As reported by Congressman Pete Sessions, the head of the NRCC, "Our mission statement was to retire Nancy Pelosi. That was the whole mission statement."
Not only did Republican begin recruiting compelling candidates and raising money, they began using "guerilla tactics" targeting Democratic congresspeople throughout the US. They began harassing them at public meetings, chasing them with video cameras, and, well before the election, running negative advertisements in their districts. (Republicans collaborated with GOP-affiliated outside groups to fund and direct the Tea Party movement.)
Between the obscene amounts of money and the virulence of the attacks, the results were inevitable: on November 2nd, voters "retired" Speaker Pelosi.
It's a tragedy because it means that the most effective senior Democratic leader won't be a featured player the next two years. It's a tragedy because liberals' most articulate spokesperson will be on the sidelines. And it's a tragedy because witch hunters have driven out the most senior woman in American politics.