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Nancy Pelosi Book Signing: Know Your Power, Just Don't Speak Truth to It

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Inside Nancy Pelosi's book signing in Philadelphia. Her remarks on Iran, Iraq - impeachment? And, what did thiswriter ask that caused her to be escorted out of the building?

Arriving at the steps of the Free Library of Philadelphia Tuesday night where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was promoting her book, "Know Your Power," I was promptly scolded by my good friend, activist Joanne O'Neill.

"What? No impeach sign? Here, take a sign," Jo insisted. "Nope," I replied. "I'm goin' in."

An hour earlier, I swallowed my pride - along with some bitter acid reflux - as I shelled out 17 bucks to purchase a book about "knowing my power" authored by a woman who spent the last few years wielding very little of it when it mattered the most. But, a little heartburn and forgoing a few lattes for the rest of the week was what it would take for me to get close enough to pose a question to the "most powerful woman" in America.

Having learned of the event just the day before, I was relegated to the simulcast room with about 60 others as the auditorium was sold out. I spotted one friendly in the crowd, but he was clearly in plotting mode so I decided to crack the binding of my new book while I waited for the Speaker to arrive. It was a quick read at just over 170 pages laced with anecdotes, some touching, some inspiring - okay, not so much.

It did offer some unique insights. A few grabbed my attention, though I am sure not in a way intended by the author. The reader is invited back 60 years to her father's Mayoral inauguration. Nancy and her brothers were sent to a room to wait quietly before the ceremony. When a man walked in and engaged them, Nancy upheld the family rule of not speaking to strangers. Her brothers determined it was okay to say hello. When they discovered the man was the outgoing mayor and it was his office, they quickly found themselves in a standoff.

Pelosi recalled, Joey said to me that he was going to tell Mommy that I was not polite to the Mayor. "If you do," I said calmly, "I will tell Mommy that you talked to a stranger." I had just turned seven, and Joey was nine. I didn't squeal on him, and because I'd earned his respect, he didn't squeal on me.

Anyone with a sibling can easily recall such a moment. It was Pelosi's assessment, however, that gave me pause. She writes of the occasion, "I had just built my first strategic alliance."

A common explanation for why the House Speaker took impeachment off the table is that the table could easily be turned on her because of her prior knowledge of and complicity in some of the most egregious offenses by the Bush administration. Perhaps she determined this was one of those times where it would be in her best interest not to "squeal."

Another charge made against Pelosi and other Democratic leaders is their insistence of putting Party before all else. In "Know Your Power," Nancy Pelosi recounts the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the tone of the 1968 Democratic Convention.

She writes, "Hubert Humphrey won the nomination, but the Democratic Party was still divided, particularly because Vice President Humphrey did not disassociate himself from Johnson's Vietnam War Policy. I, too, opposed the war, but, wanting to get a Democrat in the White House, I stuffed many "Humphrey for President' leaflets under apartment doors that fall." Need I remind anyone we ended up with Nixon?

In her book, Nancy Pelosi tells us how much she admires "disrupters." Yes, disrupters. "Sometimes," she explains "it is necessary to disrupt the status quo. That is the tradition of our country. Our Founders were disrupters - magnificent disrupters. Martin Luther King Jr. was a disrupter, as were the suffragettes. It is the American way. The change that resulted from these leaders has made our country greater. How can we follow their lead?"

Funny, I don't recall in the time that Ms. Pelosi has served as House Speaker her appreciating our nation's wave of disrupters all that much.

I would learn first hand later that evening in a not so subtle way by the Speaker and her security detail that not only does she not appreciate disrupters, she doesn't take kindly to anyone like myself who would dare...ask a question.

I was deep in thought about Nancy and the Disrupters and it was beginning to give me a headache when suddenly the energy in the room changed. The women around me perked up, inched to the edge of their seats, and leaned forward in eager anticipation. Nancy Pelosi was about to make her entrance.

Tamala Edwards, morning show anchor for 6abc Action News was selected to moderate the evening. Did I mention she was with ABC? As Ms. Edwards sat with a small pile of index cards, Madame Speaker made it clear who was going to guide the discussion. She regaled the audience with vignettes from her book and they ate it up and swallowed it whole. Tamala allowed the Speaker to take her monologue as far and away from it's starting point as she cared. Occasionally, when Pelosi's voice tapered off and she allowed for an opening, Tamala would inject an innocuous question like, "Do you ever get scared?"

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Cheryl Biren is a Philadelphia-based researcher, writer, editor and photographer with a focus on social justice. From 2007-2011, she served on the editorial board of

Cheryl has also consulted for the Rob Kall Radio Show with (more...)

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click here... by Cheryl Biren on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 4:57:13 PM
...and give Pelosi a big fat Fruit Pie in the face... by daveys on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 5:47:22 PM
I'm responding tot his comment to get closer t... by Rob Kall on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 1:52:57 PM
Thanks Rob. There is indeed at least one person am... by Cheryl Biren on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 2:41:09 PM
A wonderful job.   Thanks so much for showing... by Linda Milazzo on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 7:27:52 PM
Maybe her book will be in the Bush Library... by Dennis Kaiser on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 5:12:51 AM
There will be no books in George's library if ... by Hayesml47 on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 2:26:44 PM
In Philadelphia, the birthplace of the Constitutio... by Lance Ciepiela on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 6:37:50 PM
Comment from Ratings:   That takes guts ... by Lance Ciepiela on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 6:46:30 PM
On a funnier note, the comedy website had ... by taylor lee on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 6:51:44 PM
Forget  Pelosi's book signing for a ... by Munich on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 7:07:50 PM
I agree with you Munich and have voiced my co... by Cheryl Biren on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 7:20:34 PM
FAQ: Why Am I Seeing "This" Advertisemen... by Cheryl Biren on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 7:26:03 PM
I always wonder why there aren't MORE people a... by August Adams on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 10:17:49 PM
 She smiled and I leaned in and said in a c... by Brett Paatsch on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 11:25:35 PM
First - thanks to everyone for your comments. I re... by Cheryl Biren on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 12:04:48 AM
"So, the next question is was she and the oth... by Aurora on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 4:01:13 PM
Thanks Aurora! I had not seen those before. n... by Cheryl Biren on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 4:19:58 PM
"She says " I am concerned whether, and ... by Aurora on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 5:00:50 PM
"when she came clean in her 2006 OpEd she sai... by Aurora on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 5:43:07 PM
It is certainly possible in light of it (and I thi... by Brett Paatsch on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 9:52:12 PM
It is established that the "gang of 8" w... by Cheryl Biren on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 10:52:02 PM
Cheryl wrote: a select group of members of Congres... by Brett Paatsch on Sunday, Aug 10, 2008 at 1:15:15 AM
It is not counterproductive!  If we are ever ... by rhalfhill on Saturday, Aug 9, 2008 at 1:50:51 PM
ALL the Congress members who are not actively push... by Brett Paatsch on Sunday, Aug 10, 2008 at 12:29:57 AM
brett, i agree that people - and i expect that the... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Aug 10, 2008 at 7:59:12 AM
Daniel Ellsberg (leaker of Pentagon Papers) wrote ... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Aug 10, 2008 at 8:41:53 AM
I'm so proud of you and I don't even know ... by Cheryl Abraham on Thursday, Aug 7, 2008 at 11:48:22 PM
She's scared. I didn't really know it unti... by Ron R. on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 3:40:11 AM
thanks for the comment ronald.despite my drawn out... by Cheryl Biren on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 8:37:32 AM
But I recently got this emailed to me - I added th... by Cheryl Abraham on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 11:25:44 AM
"As John Dean points out, Bush/Cheney have br... by John H Kennedy on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 9:42:50 AM
Cheryl,  if there were awards for speaki... by Aurora on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 1:44:30 PM
Just what we need is another power hungry, lying, ... by Hayesml47 on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 2:24:16 PM
If ever there was a book that deserved burning it ... by Hayesml47 on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 2:28:44 PM
I've known for a while that Pelosi is a comple... by Kathlyn Stone on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 2:35:59 PM
Thanks, Cheryl, for a great recap of your evening ... by Robert Knowles on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 2:38:23 PM
Comment from Ratings:   Growing up in Wy... by Margaret Bassett on Friday, Aug 8, 2008 at 10:37:36 PM
It may not have happened in the US yet but I and I... by kwalsh on Monday, Aug 11, 2008 at 12:07:28 AM
So Pelosi knew the WMD threat was a hoax, voted ag... by Michael McCoy on Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008 at 3:42:45 PM
Comment from Ratings:   It's such a sham... by Alan G on Friday, Aug 15, 2008 at 11:09:04 PM
Petition to Remove Nancy Pelosi from the position ... by William Bassett on Sunday, Aug 17, 2008 at 3:52:14 AM