3:34pm

Thu April 14, 2011
It's All Politics

Nancy Pelosi. Remember Her?

You really don't hear much about Rep. Nancy Pelosi these days. Which is really saying something since as House Speaker just a year ago she was seemingly at the center of everything.

Including the health-care law which might not have happened had it not been for her skillfully navigating one of the most ambitious and controversial pieces of the legislation in modern memory past potent opposition.

Now the first woman speaker in history is an afterthought. Or maybe worse.

She's the "incredible shrinking woman according to Politico.com's Jonathan Allen. In fact, she was in Massachusetts last week when the framework for a spending deal was reached to avoid a shutdown between the principals, President Obama, Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Even more interesting, her presence wasn't wanted.

In fact, Democratic and Republican sources tell POLITICO, none of the power brokers wanted her in the room. They feared that her presence and her defense of liberal values would have made it impossible for Obama to cut a deal with Boehner. The sources say Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also was excluded so the White House could justify keeping Pelosi out.

Boehner, more or less, had McConnell's proxy in negotiating with Senate Democrats and the White House.

That they felt like they couldn't get a deal with her in the room suggests how effective she must be in such negotiations.

After all, the president could have just nodded politely at Pelosi, agreed with her about defending the poor and powerless and other liberal priorities and cut a deal with Boehner anyway. Presidents have been known to do that sort of thing.

But apparently no one was willing to take the risk that she would stop the deal. So maybe she's not so powerless after all? Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.