But now, even Democrats are actively running away from her. The National Journal identifies several Democrats who have vowed to vote against her as Speaker if they are elected or returned to the House.
And in her own re-election — a foregone conclusion in her heavily Democratic district — anti-war leftist gadfly Cindy Sheehan has endorsed Pelosi's opponent.
Some conservative commentators have even speculated that, if Democrats do maintain their House majority, Pelosi will be ousted as Speaker. That's far-fetched; however, she may be seriously challenged as Democratic leader if the party drops to a minority.
Either way, her future political power depends on what happens to her members on November 2 — elections where her name doesn't appear on the ballot, but where her caricatured image is dragging down her party.
The shelf lives of national political figures have been short of late, and have tended to end badly. Not so long ago, Speakers like Bay Staters John McCormack and Tip O'Neil could reign for a decade, and Senate leaders like Tom Daschle and Trent Lott could swap back and forth as their parties traded power.
Perhaps that will be the case again. But more recently, we've seen the height of power lead to great downfalls, including those of Daschle, Lott, Gingrich, and others — and the vilification of presidents from both sides of the aisle. For all they've accomplished in less than two years, Obama, Reid, and Pelosi may become more names on that casualty list.
To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.