Trump and Pelosi face off in bruis­ing power strug­gle

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - World - Jerome Cartillier

He’s in the White House. She’s in Congress. For the next two years, Don­ald Trump and Nancy Pelosi will have to work to­gether.

It won’t be easy. Trump, the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent, will need to deal with Pelosi, the Demo­cratic speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, if he wants to im­prove on what has been a thin list so far of leg­isla­tive ac­com­plish­ments.

Pelosi, se­cond in line for the pres­i­dency, will need to show that Democrats are ready to gov­ern and have more to of­fer than just op­po­si­tion to Trump ahead of the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Trump and Pelosi are sep­a­rated by more than just their pol­i­tics.

He is a bom­bas­tic New York real es­tate ty­coon who rev­els in rail­ing against Wash­ing­ton, which he refers to as “The Swamp”.

She rep­re­sents lib­eral San Fran­cisco in Congress and has spent more than three decades ne­go­ti­at­ing the cor­ri­dors of power on Capi­tol Hill.

The 72-year-old Trump is gen­er­ally quick to slap a de­ri­sive nick­name on his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents but he has not done so with Pelosi, who at 78 is six years his se­nior.

“I like her,” Trump said of Pelosi shortly af­ter she led the Democrats to a de­ci­sive vic­tory in the House in the Novem­ber midterm elec­tions.

“Can you be­lieve it?” Trump said. “I like Nancy Pelosi. I mean, she’s tough and she’s smart.

“She de­serves to be speaker.” Trump’s re­la­tion­ship with his Demo­cratic op­po­nents has been stormy since he took of­fice and few ex­pect things to change sig­nif­i­cantly now that Pelosi has as­sumed the role of speaker.

“I don’t be­lieve he re­spects her,” Ju­lian Zelizer, a pro­fes­sor of his­tory and pub­lic af­fairs at Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity, said. “I be­lieve he fears her.

“He has some un­der­stand- ing of power in Wash­ing­ton and how the midterms changed the dy­nam­ics.

“If he senses she is on the de­fen­sive or vul­ner­a­ble, he will un­leash his Twit­ter storm.”

Trump and Pelosi had a mem­o­rable en­counter in the Oval Of­fice in De­cem­ber as they aired their dis­agree­ments over Trump’s de­mand that Congress pro­vide $5bn in fund­ing for a wall along the south­ern bor­der with Mex­ico.

Pelosi at one point char­ac­terised as a “Trump shut­down” the pres­i­dent’s threats to par­tially shut down the fed­eral govern­ment if he did not re­ceive the money for the wall.

“Did you say ‘Trump’,” an of­fended Trump shot back. “I was go­ing to call it a ‘Pelosi shut­down’.”

Both sides have pointed to ar­eas where they could potentially reach agree­ment – mod­ernising in­fra­struc­ture and low­er­ing the prices of pre­scrip­tion drugs, for ex­am­ple.

But those mo­ments could be few and far be­tween. –

Pho­to­graph: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

NANCY PELOSI

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