I had been to Nancy Pelosi's office in the Cannon House Office Building before. In fact, I'd been there several times and usually had a pleasant stay, often very quick and efficient, other times prolonged by everyone's enjoyment of the songs my friends in pink were singing, and as often as not resulting in new friendships with fine officers of the Capitol Police who accompanied us out. This time was going to be different.
Just a few of us went by there on Wednesday. No cameras. No songs. And no signs, since we'd already left those at the door with our Capitol Police friends, who continue to get the wrong impression about us. We walked in and said "Good afternoon," which they apparently mistook for the voice of the Filipino Monkey saying "We are come to slaughter your children."
Fearing our murderous threats, the police chose not to accompany us down the hall to Pelosi's crib. And, in fact, we were on a very devious mission. We were accompanying a 60-year-old retired college professor who had decided to walk 500 miles from his home to this office in order to ask for 5 minutes of Pelosi's time. John Nirenberg's story of the march he has now completed is at http://www.marchinmyname.org
John attracted a fair amount of attention on his way to D.C. and was able to meet with some members of Congress when he arrived. He said that his own conscience felt much better to him, having completed his walk. But it would not be truly complete until he sat down with Nancy and told her why he'd come: to ask her to put the power of impeachment back in the Constitution.
Nancy P. turns out to be one hip chick. The first thing you notice in her rather bare office is a large glossy magazine prominently displayed on a table. On the cover is a big photo of Nancy with Rudy Giuliani:
Of course we thought this was way cool, and we planned to ask Nancy if she really knew Giuliani and what he was like in person as soon as she got there.
Also in Nancy's office is an ugly sofa, a couple of boring desks, a young woman who pretends to be helpful, and mostly bare walls. Through the door to the left is a larger room where a couple of young men are wandering around, eating lunch, not saying anything to us or each other, and looking more bored than anything else. High on the far wall of the side room is a huge map of Pelosi's district in San Francisco. This is her district office. Her Speaker's office is across the street in the U.S. Capitol.
In fact, the young woman told us that Nancy was actually over there in the other office so we'd have to go over there if we wanted to see her. But when we asked how we could get in there, she helpfully pointed out that we couldn't. This seemed like a Catch-22 until she let John use her phone and call over there. You have to admit that was going out of her way, but the person on the other end of the phone seemed to think that Nancy was too busy. She'd been too busy for quite a while. John knew the staffers by name. He'd phoned, faxed, Emailed, registered mailed, and announced his request in the media. Nancy wasn't busy on the spur of the moment. She was so cool she'd been working on being busy for a month now. And she was definitely busy. So, the woman in the district office told us she'd find a staffer who could meet with us instead.
While we were waiting, I checked out the other desk in the room. It was missing a staffer, helpful or otherwise, but it did have a row of glossy brochures carefully fanned out on it. I took one. It said on the cover "The 110th Congress: A New Direction for America."
sh*t, I thought, this sounds GOOD. I imagined Nancy was coming up with a different approach for 2008. But then I looked at the back cover, which listed a string of accomplishments from 2007. This confused me, since I couldn't recall any accomplishments from 2007.
What was on the list?
Seven of the things on the list were supposedly new things that had been passed by Congress and signed into law. But they were all either lame or misleading or both. One of them was a ban on deficit spending. Given that were dumping trillions of dollars into illegal foreign occupations, what would this mean for spending on things we actually need and want? Another achievement was supposedly "lobby and ethics reform." Most of the others were smallish items that had been slipped in as part of mammoth bills to further fund those illegal foreign occupations: things like token aid to victims of hurricanes, and a very partial correction to the plummeting minimum wage, etc.
Then there were four other achievements that were actually bills that the House had passed, knowing they would be vetoed, and which were in fact vetoed. So, these were dubious achievements, but even as false claims, two of them were false on their own terms. The House never passed anything that could accurately be described as "Energy Security and Reducing Global Warming" or "Holding the Administration Accountable for the War in Iraq".