Juan Williams: Pelosi is my politician of the year

Juan Williams: Pelosi is my politician of the year

It is time to name the year’s top member of Congress.

For 2019, the winner is a woman who also stars in the political picture of the year.

Take a look at Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Pelosi offers message to Trump on Bill Maher show: 'You are impeached forever' MORE (D-Calif.) in a sea of men, literally standing up to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE at the White House.

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On that day, she pointedly reminded him that a majority of House Republicans joined her Democratic caucus in voting to condemn him for pulling troops out of Syria.

The picture was so powerful that the White House released it and in act of pure spin described it as proof of Pelosi having an “unhinged meltdown.”

But once the picture was out, Pelosi’s fans produced memes, hashtags (#PelosiOwnsTrump) and even coffee mugs with the iconic picture to celebrate her for showing strength in the face of Trump’s name-calling and bullying.

In the meeting, Trump called her either a “third grade” or “third rate” politician.

She responded by telling him she wished he had some political skill. She not only had the heart to stand up to him but she walked out.

In that moment, Pelosi distinguished herself as one politician Trump has failed to intimidate.

For the last nine years, this year-end-tradition column has spotlighted the politician — Republican or Democrat, in the Senate or House — who came out the biggest winner.

The problem with giving the award to Pelosi is that she deserves recognition for more than any single year of political mastery.

As the first woman to serve as Speaker, the 79-year-old mother of five has long ago earned the status of a living legend. She is the most powerful Democrat in Washington.

As Speaker, she has never lost a House vote she brought to the floor.

And now she is making more history as the third Speaker to preside over the impeachment of an American president.

She has achieved two critical goals while guiding her party through treacherous political waters.

First, she has protected Democrats whose districts were carried by Trump in 2016. Until they told her they were on board with the political risk of an impeachment inquiry, Pelosi refused to proceed.

Second, she has provided the map for House Democrats to tell the public that impeachment is bigger than another partisan battle.

“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said in a speech announcing plans to proceed with an impeachment vote. “Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice.”

So far, her approach has enjoyed unprecedented success with the public.

By October, several polls found a plurality of Americans agreed that Trump should be impeached. That high level of support has stayed in place despite Trump’s claims of a “coup” and an impeachment “hoax.”

When President Clinton was impeached, the support for that effort by a Republican House majority never went above 29 percent.

Pelosi built a far higher level of support for Trump’s impeachment with care.

And last week, after public testimony and Trump’s refusal to have his aides to testify, Pelosi gave the green light for a vote on impeachment.

This has been a masterclass in politics for the businessman in the White House.

As impeachment gained steam this year, Trump said Pelosi’s Democratic majority in the House was being sidetracked and damned them as a “Do Nothing” Congress.

But as The Washington Post noted last week: “The House has actually passed more legislation this year than the Senate” including bills to increase background checks before gun purchases and increase protection against violence against women.

Several of the House bills have bipartisan support but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Democrats file brief against Trump, 'the Framers' worst nightmare' Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner MORE (R-Ky.) has proclaimed himself the “grim reaper” of House bills and refused to deal with them.

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At every turn, Pelosi has protected her House majority. She now has Republicans retiring or quitting House seats at a rapid rate, out of frustration that Democrats are likely to hold onto their majority in the 2020 election.

Yet, for all her prior legislative triumphs — the 2009 economic stimulus and the 2010 Affordable Care Act among them — Pelosi is writing the first line of her historical legacy as I write this column: Her stamp of approval makes it all but certain that the House will impeach Trump.

Even if the politics of impeachment blow up in the Democrats’ face, there is virtually no chance that her Speakership will be in jeopardy. There is no one in the House Democratic caucus with enough gravitas to seriously challenge her.

Pelosi will have the Speakership for as long as she wants. She is the author of her own political destiny.

By finally standing up to Trump and expertly navigating the process that will most likely result in his impeachment, Pelosi wins the prize for Politician of the Year.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.