Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ask the Leader

I feel the need to set the record straight on the Nancy Pelosi appearance yesterday at Netroots Nation. What the reporting I have seen so far focuses on, of course, is that the House Minority Leader was heckled when she began to talk about the Snowden affair, and proceeded to defend the Obama administration's record on surveillance and security, especially in contrast to that of the Bush administration. This is either being portrayed as an indication of the left's rejection of Pelosi or Obama; or in some quarters as the left's lunacy in displaying the same disregard of facts and sense as we sometimes see on the right. As a witness to the proceedings, it was my impression that neither view is correct.

More important than the not-surprising incidence of vocal outrage at revelations of the extent of NSA surveillance is how beautifully Pelosi handled the situation. She told the heckler it was fair to ask the questions he was asking and to demand answers, and said emphatically that we need to have a full debate about these topics. She then took another unauthorized shouted-out question from the audience, about outsourcing national security to government contractors, and said she agreed with the questioner 100%. At that point, Pelosi had the audience almost completely on her side.

It's also worth watching the full video of the Pelosi interview to see how well the Congresswoman dealt with a whole range of other topics, from her brilliant dissection of Republican ineptitude in failing to pass the farm bill, to an inspiring lecture encouraging women to take an active role in politics, to an analysis of the politics of immigration reform, and her dismay at excessive partisanship in Congress, etc. Sure there are some things that some people in the room were unhappy about, and a few of them were vocal about their unhappiness. It has always been so on the left. Most of the discussion was held on a very positive level, however, and the audience in general was highly sympathetic to Pelosi's remarks from beginning to end, even including a slight rough patch that others have made so much fuss over. Kudos to the past and future Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and to the excellent job done by moderator Zerlina Maxwell.  

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