Nancy Pelosi’s fuchsia suit

I hesitate to say this, but I will never forget the image of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerging from her giant black SUV in front of the St. Regis Hotel. She was wearing a fuchsia pantsuit, big white pearls, and spike heels.

It’s not politically correct to discuss a female politician’s appearance, but honestly, after our Monitor Breakfast with Speaker Pelosi on June 19, the first thing I mention to people is her gorgeous suit. Most women, including yours truly, could not pull off that look. But she does, in “stylish grandma” fashion.

Like it or not, appearance matters in politics. Ms. Pelosi is the most powerful woman in American political history, and she didn’t get where she is – speaker of the House, for the second time – by blending in. She’s also petite, but in political terms, she’s a giant. Perhaps alone in the current era, the nation’s top Democrat has figured out how to go toe-to-toe with President Donald Trump.

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“She exudes significance,” Trump biographer Gwenda Blair observed in my post-breakfast article, which focused on the increasingly contentious Pelosi-Trump relationship.

Of course, appearance is just packaging. Ms. Pelosi also speaks on the issues, and is seen as a master tactician. The day before our breakfast, another House Democrat announced his support for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and the speaker seemed unfazed, despite her continuing opposition (for now) to impeachment.

She also made news when she said she opposes a congressional censure of Mr. Trump as a less-divisive alternative to impeachment. “I think censure is just a way out,” Ms. Pelosi said, calling it “a day at the beach for the president, or at his golf club, or wherever he goes.”

Ultimately, Ms. Pelosi says, her goal as speaker is to protect the Constitution, which establishes the legislative branch and the courts as a check on the president.

Mr. Trump, of course, has a standing invitation to our breakfast, if he’d like to join us.

The censure comment dominated headlines out of the breakfast, including this story in The Washington Post. The Hill newspaper led with Ms. Pelosi’s announcement that she will soon view a “less-redacted” version of the Mueller report. The Monitor published excerpts of the event.

The C-SPAN video of the breakfast can be viewed here.

We’ve booked great guests in coming weeks. Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, chairman of the House Republican campaign committee, is on July 17. Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, is on July 24. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, comes Aug. 29 for his annual pre-Labor Day visit. And on Sept. 12, we’ll have Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

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