So how does Pelosi stack up against the four Republicans who have held the speaker’s position since the G.O.P. took control of the House in 1994?
Newt Gingrich was a blowhard who shut down the government in a failed attempt to blackmail Bill Clinton into cutting Medicare, then led the impeachment of Clinton over an affair even as he himself was cheating on his wife.
Dennis Hastert, we now know, had a history of molesting teenage boys. Personal behavior aside, the “Hastert rule,” under which Republicans could support only legislation approved by a majority of their own party, empowered extremists and made America less governable.
John Boehner didn’t do much except oppose everything Obama proposed, including measures that were crucial to dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis.
And Paul Ryan, the current but departing speaker, is a flimflam man: a fake deficit hawk whose one legislative achievement is a budget-busting tax cut, a fake policy wonk whose budget proposals were always obvious smoke and mirrors, pretending to address the budget deficit but actually just redistributing income from the poor to the rich. In the final act of his political career he has also shown himself to be a coward, utterly unwilling to stand up to Trump’s malfeasance.
.. While in office, Hastert was generally portrayed as a stolid embodiment of middle-American values. Ryan was for years the recipient of fawning media coverage, which lauded him as the ultimate serious, honest conservative long after his phoniness was obvious to anyone who paid attention. But Pelosi is typically referred to as “divisive.” Why?