House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing a media tour, touting her new book, "Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters ." On Monday night she sat down for a Q&A with Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller inside the awkwardly named TheTimesCenter, an auditorium connected to the paper's headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Book flacks aggressively marketed Pelosi's autobiography at the entrance, politely pressuring ticket holders even before their tickets were scanned (Pelosi was doing a book signing after the Q&A). In other words, the Democratic Speaker of the House was selling and signing books at NYT Co.
The conversation itself consisted of a lot more of Pelosi's A's than NYT Q's, as the Speaker filibustered through a series of mostly sympathetic questions from Bumiller (the first half especially more closely resembled a friendly Sunday morning TV book interview than any exercise in news-gathering).
The onstage chemistry between the two, alone on stage in the 378-seat auditorium, was polite but not effusive. The audience, in the heart of liberal Manhattan, was definitely on her side: Pelosi managed to wring applause lines from Democratic boilerplate like defending public schools (yeah!), women earning only 70 cents to the dollar of men (boo!), and Bush leaving office soon (yeah yeah yeah!).
Bumiller's initial questions were tailored to Pelosi's bean-counting feminism:
Bumiller: I should say, you say in your book, that 22% of elected officials in the world are women, while in the United States it's only 17%. So what's been holding us back in this, this most advanced country in the world?
Even when Bumiller departed from the book's topics and quizzed Pelosi on purely political issues, she didn't raise a challenging questions about the success of the troop surge, but instead led off with one of the topitems on the left-wing's wish list:
Bumiller: I'm going to ask you a question that you get asked all the time, I'll get it out of the way. Actually, I'm going to ask it in a different way. Do you think that the way that President Bush took the nation to war was an impeachable offense?
Pelosi didn't answer for several seconds, as applause filled the auditorium. A full 15 seconds after the question, Pelosi responded by demurring, saying, "Let me say it another way." (Before the 2006 elections Pelosi caused angst among Democrats by saying that impeachment was "off the table.") She filibustered, giving a laundry list of talking points causing Bumiller to query: "Is that a yes?"
At least twice during the talk, Pelosi recited the left-wing myth that the middle class have had their riches extracted and given to the upper 1% under Bush, which evidently now controls 24% of U.S. assets.
Bumiller sounded almost apologetic when she challenged Pelosi on offshore drilling, even couching it in the terms of "playing devil's advocate":
Bumiller: What do you say to those who say this is a very critical part of our energy security, it's safer now, we're drilling many, many miles offshore, you can't see them offshore, this is crucial to us, gas prices are $4 a gallon, I'm playing devil's advocate.
Pelosi: I understand.
Bumiller: So what is your - this is a growing view, as you know.
Bumiller posed one other semi-critical question from the right, challenging Pelosi for blocking a free trade agreement with Colombia, even after President Uribe's rescue of U.S. hostages from the FARC terrorist group.
When she'd used up her questions, Bumiller read from a sheet of queries submitted by the audience, including a vague one asking Pelosi to compare liberal vs. conservative media bias. In response, Pelosi warned about the White House "echo chamber" resonating "across the radical right-wing."
Another Pelosi quote brought up the Fairness Doctrine:
Pelosi: [Right-wingers] saw an opportunity, came out of the White House, the biggest platform in the world, there's nothing that can compare to the bully pulpit of the President of the United States, and that echo chamber across America is on talk radio and the rest, which came forth because of the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine.
The Fairness Doctrine, which could come up for renewal under a Democratic Congress and White House, would require broadcasters to air both sides of controversial issues, which would serve to impose onerous government regulations on conservative-dominated talk radio. MRC has more on this important matter here .