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Heraclitus was right

WASHINGTON — Although I qualify for the senior discount at the movies, even I’m not old enough to have met Heraclitus, the wise Greek who lived some 25 centuries ago and whom we can thank for the timeless wisdom “Character is destiny.”

Here in Washington, one elected national leader commands the affection and the respect of her constituents. That leader is Washington’s one certified grown-up, the former Nancy D’Alesandro from Albemarle Street in the Little Italy section of Baltimore, the wife of one man, the mother of five children and the grandmother of nine who has represented California’s city of Saint Francis for 32 years in the U.S. House and has continuously been elected since 2001 to be a leader of her party by her U.S. House Democratic colleagues.

Democrats are chronically quarrelsome — any time you get three Democrats together, you can almost guarantee their finding four issues on which they hold 11 opposing positions. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the essence of sobriety, openly shushed from the House podium some of her Democratic members who started to applaud the conclusion of the House vote to impeach President Donald Trump, reflecting the gravity of the occasion, she proved herself once again to be the grown-up in the room.

To even his most uncritical admirers, it must be obvious that Donald Trump, not alone among powerful males, is severely uncomfortable dealing with women of power. Pelosi gives Trump the hives, as evidenced in his six-page screed written to her, the speaker of the House, by him, the president of the United States, which was just below the quality and thoughtfulness of a not particularly gifted third-grader’s scribbled rant against a classmate who put a mouse in his lunch bag. You can be sure that 23rd-century graduate students will be studying in disbelief in the Trump Presidential Library the diatribes, public and private, of the president against and about Speaker Pelosi.

How tough is Nancy Pelosi? In the last national election, according to the Wall Street Journal, there were nearly 136,000 paid television commercials attacking the Democratic speaker, both personally and politically — far more than the number run critical of President Trump, who told us repeatedly that no one had ever been treated as badly as he was savaged by his political opponents. And never once did she utter a syllable of self-pity. Speaker Pelosi is the grown-up; character is destiny.

To put this in some perspective, even the most ardent intimates of former President Barack Obama acknowledge that Obama’s Affordable Care Act never would have become law if not for the intelligence, skill, commitment and toughness of Speaker Pelosi. Last year, because of the relentless attacks by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress, for the first time since 2008, fewer Americans had the protection of health insurance. In fact, in the struggle between Pelosi and Trump, 2 million fewer Americans had health care than the year before.

Here’s my advice heading into 2020: Don’t bet against Tommy D’Alesandro’s daughter. She’s smart as a whip, more disciplined than an Olympic gold medal winner and tougher than nails. And, most important of all, character is still destiny.

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To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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