In lieu of the praise one might expect in a room full of women and the ceiling-smashing Nancy Pelosi, insults were hurled towards the stage.
“Traitor!” screamed one woman. “Liar!” shouted another. One man’s high-volume, breakneck rampage got him physically removed from the room. His diatribe, though nearly indecipherable, left Pelosi stone-faced but shaken.
Confronted by a surprising outburst of California’s politically liberal constituency, Pelosi, on a break from her post as the first woman Speaker of the House – the third highest office in the nation – landed at American Jewish University on Aug. 11 to promote her new book, “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters.” Faced with an acrimonious audience, one of Congress’s most outspoken critics of the Bush administration was lambasted for opposing impeachment proceedings against George W. Bush.
During a 90-minute Q&A with AJU’s president, Robert Wexler, nearly 400 people listened as Pelosi discussed her childhood, her unexpected rise to power and the need for more women in government. When Wexler pressed her on a question about Congress’s dismally low 9% approval rating, Pelosi defended herself and her colleagues. This prompted an irate audience member to accuse Pelosi of shirking her constitutional responsibility by not impeaching Bush for the deceptive reasoning that started the Iraq war.
Pelosi dismissed the outburst. “I have complete comfort with the frustration. I’m from the streets,” she said.
But when several other people rose from their seats in paroxysms of protest, Pelosi was forced onto the defensive.
“I take an oath of office to uphold the constitution of the United States. Don’t tell me I don’t do that,” she snapped. “Why don’t you go picket the Republicans in Congress that will not allow us to have a vote on the war?”
It was the puzzling part of the whole evening: why L.A. liberals have allowed themselves to be charmed by people like Karl Rove (who appeared a few months back) but were hostile to Nancy Pelosi, who purports to represent their interests.
By the time the crowd quieted down, Pelosi looked deflated.
“What else do you have for me?” she asked a bereft Wexler, who refused to confront her with the issue on everybody’s mind.
Despite her book’s message of empowerment to America’s women, Pelosi was pelted as if she were a harlot.