Was Asking About Nancy Pelosi’s Age Out Of Line?
Earlier today, Nancy Pelosi announced that she would stand for re-relection as leader of the House Democrats, an election she will win quite easily. The news of her announcement, though, was overshadowed somewhat by a question from NBC’s Luke Russert:
When Pelosi took questions from reporters, NBC’s Luke Russert asked her whether she thought the House Democratic leadership is too old.
“The answer is no,” Pelosi responded as her colleagues booed loudly. She later called the question offensive and noted that reporters rarely ask such questions of male leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“Everything that I have done in my almost decade now of leadership is to elect younger and newer people to the Congress,” Pelosi said. “In my own personal experience, it was very important for me to elect young women.”
But the question is worth asking, because Democratic lawmakers have said privately that the party need to begin fostering younger leaders. Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), an assistant to Pelosi, are all in their 70s.
Russert has been criticized for asking the question, but I really don’t see how it’s out of line. Comparing the House Republican and Democratic Leadership teams the most striking thing you see is the dramatic differences in age. The Republicans are led by a group of man, and with the addition of Cathy McMorris-Rogers, women that are mostly in their 40s and 50s. The Democratic team is dominated by people in their 70s and, as noted, there have been some signs that younger Democratic Members of Congress find the way the system is working frustrating because its making it difficult for them to rise in the committee system and in the party leadership. Pelosi’s mention of the Senate is mostly a non sequiter because that body has traditionally been made up of a membership that is older in age than the House to begin with so it’s not unusual that the Leadership of both sides would be in their 60s and 70s.
Russert’s question wasn’t implying that Pelosi was too old to do her job, it was a legitimate question about whether the fact that older House members are continuing to hold onto leadership positions is having an adverse impact on the caucus as a whole. His question was entirely appropriate.