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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Biographer Susan Page thinks this is Nancy Pelosi's last term, although not because of that speech

Stephen Colbert, Susan Page
Stephen Colbert, Susan Page
Screenshot: The Late Show

“She has never been good at the ‘talking out loud’ part of politics,” is how USA Today Washington Bureau Chief and longtime White House reporter Susan Page assessed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s skillset on Wednesday’s Late Show. And while she was responding to a more general question about the long-serving Speaker’s style from host Stephen Colbert, Page quickly applied that judgement to her attempt to explain Pelosi’s widely derided, what-the-hell-did-she-just-say? speech in the aftermath of the conviction of disgraced Minneapolis police officer and murderer Derek Chauvin. Colbert introduced the topic by terming Pelosi’s remarks, “tone-deaf,” and “inartful,” to which Page—author of the brand new Pelosi biography, Madame Speaker: Nanci Pelosi And The Lessons Of Power—herself politicly stated, “‘Inartful’ is a kind way to put it.”

And while a truly, bafflingly wrong-headed (if, one supposes, well-intentioned?) speech equating the late George Floyd’s murder at the hands of law enforcement to a noble sacrifice so that America can potentially get its racial shit together was ‘inartful,” it also presumably got vetted by a staff filled with (presumably white) staff members who nodded approvingly. So not being a great extemporaneous speaker isn’t the excuse Page thinks it is. Still, as Page told Colbert, as she’s learned in her long career in White House journalism and shorter but more intensive work prepping a comprehensive biography of one of the most important and powerful political figures in recent memory, Nancy Pelosi’s a whole lot better off-mic. “She’s pretty tough,” stated Page, citing an old Politico quote that Pelosi rules with “an iron fist inside a Gucci glove,” and noting that the Speaker has shown her willingness to stand up to presidents and make deals where others have failed. Colbert, referencing his recent Late Show interview with former Speaker and current legacy-gaslighting weed farmer and tanning model John Boehner, said that Boehner could only stand back and admit that Pelosi was better at it than he ever was.

Page, asked about Pelosi’s prospects for future leadership, predicted that this would be the Speaker’s last term in office (again, not because of the George Floyd thing, although, yeesh). But before any Republicans out there get too excited about the possibilities seemingly afforded by a Pelosi-less chair, Page did tell Colbert that viewing this as her “valedictory term” pretty much means the Gucci is coming off when it comes to getting the Democratic agenda done. “She’s eager to get these big measures through,” said Page, hinting ominously (for Republicans) that there’s a Nancy Pelosi with nothing to lose stalking the House. As to that white supremacist insurrection that literally stalked the Capitol back in January with Pelosi’s murder in (so-called) mind, Page told Colbert that the 81-year-old Speaker—while at first not taking the unprecedented seditionist yahoo mob seriously—pointed to her signature “4-inch stiletto heels” and told Page at one point, “They would have had a battle on their hands.” You don’t grow up the daughter of a Baltimore politician without knowing how to throw down.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.