Judith or Salomé The Making of Nancy’s Legacy

Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi is once again speaker of the House of Representatives. She is the third ranking member of the United States government and, despite being 78 years old, has a better path to the presidency than many of the two- or three-dozen possible Democratic candidates.

Getting there would not even require winning an election. All she would have to do is figure out how to oust President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, the two who are ahead of her in the pecking order. If she were successful, she would only get the time remaining until January 20, 2021, when the next President gets sworn in, but at that point she would be 80 years old anyway and would have added first female President to her first female House Speaker legacy. Add to that a lifetime membership in the former Presidents club so, what the heck, it might be worth a shot.

As she contemplates that “stretch goal,” she has a nearer term mission to serve up President Donald Trump’s head on a platter for the Democratic nominee in 2020. Political legacies being as important as they are, Speaker Pelosi now has to contemplate the optics of that effort. Does she do Judith and the Head of Holofernes or Salomé and the Head of John the Baptist?

Judith, a beautiful widow, gained access to the tent of Holofernes, an Assyrian general, first because he was drunk and second because he had the hots for her. Her story makes it into the Catholic version of the Old Testament but falls one step short (Apocrypha) for Protestants and many steps short for Jews who leave her out entirely. Since Pelosi is Catholic, she need not worry about that. Portraying herself as Judith puts her in the only Bible that matters to her.

Next we need to consider the artistic theme. Should Nancy imagine herself doing the actual beheading as in many Baroque and Renaissance paintings and sculptures or should she favor the post-beheading scene in which Judith holds the severed head aloft? With sword or without? Finally, there is the issue of nudity level. Are we going full frontal or perhaps just a hint of breast? Upon such decisions are political legacies formed.

On balance, I think the Caravaggio version would serve her best. Fully dressed and demonstrative of some pretty heavy-duty girl power but you be the judge.  If you’d like some other selections, just Google Judith Beheading Holofernes.

Salomé seems less heroic than Judith, as all she did was arouse Herod II by dancing for him at a dinner. So turned on was Herod by her Dance of the Seven Veils that he offered Salomé up to half his kingdom. She only requested the head of then imprisoned, John the Baptist, on a platter. This seems less “image worthy” for Speaker Pelosi (perhaps even a touch slutty) but it does provide references in two Gospels (Matthew and Mark), which must also be considered.

Again, there are many choices of artistic depiction though none seem to raise the delicate nudity issue. On balance, it is always a safe course to stick with Caravaggio but if you prefer other versions just Google Salomé with the head of John the Baptist. You’ll find lots of choices.

In the end, as Speaker Pelosi chooses the proper image for her legacy, the half finished girl power execution seems the better selection than the more risqué Dance of the Seven Veils.

Assuming of course, she is unable to send Vice President Pence packing and have the job for herself.

There’s the answer – one of each: Judith for the President; Salomé for the Vice President; and Nancy nails the legacy thing.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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