House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Smirnoff, uh, make that Tito’s Handmade) spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the other day, and at her Wednesday press conference, she shared with the world her words of courage and inspiration. “In fact,” Pelosi announced, “when I spoke to President Zelensky, I said, ‘Billie Jean King sends you her regards and wants to know how she can help in any event.’”
Billie Jean King? And so Madame Speaker gives us yet another advertisement for term limits, and maybe even an age limit for elected officials.
PELOSI: “In fact, when I spoke to President Zelenskyy I said ‘Billie Jean King sends you her regards and wants to know how she can help in any event.'” pic.twitter.com/uKkrj8cdVv
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 9, 2022
Kids, Billie Jean King was a professional tennis player. She won Wimbledon six times and numerous other championships. She may be most famous, however, for the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” match with Bobby Riggs, who was 55 at the time (she was 29, and decisively defeated him). What kind of help she could offer Zelensky is unclear, as she is now 78 and not known to be a tank commander or fighter pilot.
Pelosi’s mention of Billie Jean King, however, was not a completely gratuitous product of a befogged consciousness. Also on Wednesday, Pelosi hosted a Women’s History Month event honoring King and other female athletes. At that event, Pelosi gushed that King was an “all-American icon” and “one of the greatest tennis players of all time — men or women.” Not only that, but “she has blessed our country with her devotion to activism. She has been a fearless voice for women and LGBTQ Americans. And for their many friends in Congress, a partner for progress.”
It was understandable, then, that Billie Jean King would have been on Pelosi’s mind, to use the term loosely, but it is still nothing short of bizarre to think that the best thing to tell Volodymyr Zelensky, a man who is trying to hold his country together in the face of a brutal invasion by a ruthless military power, is that a tennis player from the 1970s of whom he may well never have heard is in his corner and ready to help?
Nancy Pelosi is 81 years old, three years older than Billie Jean King and two years older than Old Joe Biden — who is dismayed that Vladimir Putin had the temerity to invade Russia. Pelosi and Biden are just two of the gerontocrats who now dominate Washington: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is 71. House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler is 74. California senator Dianne Feinstein is 88. All of them are Democrats, but Iowa senator Chuck Grassley is also 88 and is a Republican. Grassley is the chair of the Senate Aging Committee, and he is obviously well qualified for the job.
What makes these politicians and so many others stay on long after their sell-by date, when they should be sitting on a porch somewhere, enjoying some lemonade and regaling the grandkids with stories of how they delivered a huge pork package for the district? The answer is likely the same as the answer to the question of why six of the fifteen richest counties in the country are in Virginia and Maryland, right outside Washington, D.C. Public service in the United States has become a lucrative exercise in mutual back-slapping, with numerous well-heeled lobbies eager to pay a cash-strapped Congressman outlandish speaker’s fees after he gets them what they want on the legislative floor. And once you’ve climbed aboard the gravy train, it’s hard to get off.
It’s clearer than ever, however, that Pelosi and Biden are not dealing from a full deck anymore and should be retired, sent out to pasture laden with spurious honors from their fellow hypocrites and liars, as if they were the selfless public servants they pretend to be. Unless Billie Jean King is ready to grab her racket and challenge Vladimir Putin to an all-or-nothing new “Battle of the Sexes” match with everything on the line, winner takes Ukraine, the Speaker of the House has shown us once again the dangers of returning people to Congress election after election after election, no matter how old and dotty they get. When Nancy Pelosi entered Congress, Ronald Reagan was president of the United States and Jim Wright (who?) was Speaker of the House. Ronald Reagan and Wright both left office in 1989. It’s long past time for Pelosi to follow them.