Last Monday evening, in the plush environs of Los Angeles' American Jewish University, a dedicated group of pro-peace, Pro-Constitution patriots "booked" Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. No, I don't mean "booked" as in charged her with a crime and jailed her. In this scenario, "booked" is more akin to "punked" - in which case we surprised Madam Pelosi by revising her new book, then forced her to read our revisions. Tuh-Dah!!
It happened like this: Madam Speaker of the House Pelosi, second in line to the Presidency, appeared at a book signing for her ironically titled new tome, "Know Your Power." Since Madam Pelosi has not used her power as Speaker to hold impeachment hearings against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as prescribed by Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution, we pro-Constitution patriots held her to task. We took her new book and scrawled our personalized imperatives and questions within it.
I wrote "Honor Your Oath" on side-by side blank pages in the book and "Debate Cindy Sheehan" on the blank side of the book jacket.
Incomparable activist and former Congressional candidate, Marcy Winograd, who sat on my right in the second row of the auditorium, asked how much Pelosi knew about torture. She wrote: "Nancy? Torture? Torture? Torture?" On my left, Jodie Evans, activist par excellence and co-founder of CODEPINK, wrote "Do Your Job!" Eight of us, who sat squarely in Pelosi's line of vision, including environmental attorney, Sara Nichols, and CODEPINK organizer, Tighe Barry, held up our copies of her book to show our bold edits.
Madam Speaker was so flustered by our efforts that she barely made a cogent remark for her whole "Know Your Power" talk. Our peaceful action had impact. The truth is a powerful tool. But if only our actions weren't necessary. If only, as Jodie Evans suggested, Madam Speaker would do her job!
For me, as an Italian American woman who wants Pelosi to succeed, watching her in action was difficult. She's sweet and congenial and inherently likable. But those positives pale when compared to her tragic misdeeds. Those of us who value our democracy and our Constitution are too patriotic to succumb to her charm. If only her valor, her love of nation, and her observance of the rule of law matched her likability. But they don't.
Saddest of all is the contrast of who Pelosi once was to who she his now. For a woman who was once at the cutting edge of social progressivism, Nancy Pelosi has lost her way. She has strayed from her former social consciousness into the malaise of power. A sorry state for a woman who 32 years ago was a pivotal player in the 1976 Presidential campaign of radically progressive California Governor, Jerry Brown.
In that critically important campaign, known as "The People's campaign," Pelosi helped Brown push hard for social values. She was instrumental in his win in the Maryland primary. Who would believe that 30 years later, Nancy Pelosi, who'd fought so hard for social change, would subvert the Constitution and enable the crimes of George Bush and Dick Cheney? In 1976, Nancy Pelosi was a well connected political volunteer and social justice activist. She maximized her minimal power to promote a grassroots Presidential campaign.
Today, that same Nancy Pelosi, with exponentially more power, turns a deaf ear to "The People" and quashes their dissent. How troubling that a once valiant activist, at the forefront of social causes, is now a tool of the administration and an adversary of participatory democracy. Since January of last year, members of peace and justice organizations across the nation, not to mention her own San Francisco constituents, have been begging Pelosi to meet with them to discuss defunding and ending the war in Iraq and impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney. Pelosi has refused their requests.
The only opportune venues since that time, where "The People" could challenge the Speaker, are the stops along this tour. "The People" have seized the opportunity and have been confounded every step of the way by Pelosi's bewilderment at their disfavor. Indeed, the mere fact that she scheduled this tour without anticipating the chilly receptions shows she's impervious to her own folly. It's a similar fantasy to the one the Administration held that it would be greeted by Iraqis with flowers.
Pelosi is either clueless or delusional. It's inconceivable that after countless refusals to meet with the public that she'd not expect a verbal flogging. Yet all along her ill-fated tour, although she is the culprit, "The People" bear the brunt of her malfeasance by being ejected and even arrested. In Washington, DC, people were discouraged from asking questions. In Philadelphia, people were whisked off if they tried to ask a question. In San Francisco, people were pushed away if they tried to ask a question. In Los Angeles, attorney Peter Thottam, founder of the Los Angeles National Impeachment Center, was hauled off and arrested after he stood up in the front row and shouted:
I'm going to vomit. Who gave you the right to take the Constitution and shove it down the toilet? Who gave you the right to take impeachment off the table? Stop talking to us like we're children. One million Iraqis are dead, 5000 Americans are dead. You have destroyed the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 8th Amendments.A second impeachment activist, Jennifer Epps, was also arrested after attempting to question Pelosi at the book signing table. Epps and Thottam both spent 13 hours in jail and were released the next morning. They have court dates in the beginning of September. The most telling exchange of the evening was between CODEPINK cofounder, Jodie Evans, who has known Nancy Pelosi for over 30 years. Evans stood up to Pelosi in frustration after Pelosi said:
I completely agree the Constitution is challenged by these people [Bush administration]. That's why we have passed over and over again Contempt of Congress resolutions in subcommittee and full committee and even on the floor of the House holding the Administration in contempt for not honoring the checks and balances.The following exchange ensued:
Evans: But Nancy, you swore to uphold the Constitution.
Pelosi: (recognizing Evans) You can ask me any question you want.
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