[Posted by Karl]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer attack anti-ObamaCare protesters at Congressional town halls in the USA Today:
These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.
Pelosi knows a thing or two about raucous protesters, and has not always considered them un-American. Since becoming Speaker, she has occasionally run into resistance from the antiwar movement generally, and Code Pink in particular. In January 2006, Pelosi got a decidedly mixed reseption at a town hall meeting in San Francisco:
Dozens of heckling, sign-toting anti-war protesters tried to take center stage at the congresswomen’s town hall forum on national security — calling for an immediate de-funding of the Iraq war and impeachment proceedings against President George Bush.
The protesters stood quietly in front of Pelosi waving their signs for the entire two-hour meeting, while hecklers from the audience frequently interrupted the talk.
But Pelosi never summoned help from police or security. She negotiated with the hecklers and at times even thanked the protesters for their advocacy and enthusiasm.
“It’s always exciting,” she told reporters after the meeting. “This is democracy in action. I’m energized by it, frankly.”
Or this incident from June 2007:
The congresswoman who hails from liberal San Francisco was introduced on Wednesday by Rep. John Murtha, a longtime Iraq war dissenter. Murtha was greeted with raucous applause, but, at the mention of Pelosi’s name, members of the antiwar women’s group Code Pink were quick to shout at her and continued to do so throughout her speech until she responded.
As Pelosi was discussing “…preserving our climate, protecting our country, growing our economy and strengthening our families as we care for our children and preserve our planet,” activists from the group interjected.
“And bring our troops home now,” a protester yelled from the crowd, following by several other “now”s.
“Preserving our planet is a national security issue…,” Pelosi said and paused. “I always say the best preparation for combat is combat,” she responded. “So just go for it, I respect your enthusiasm.”
“Your impatience with the war is justified,” Pelosi said, trying to ease tensions between those heckling her and those shushing the hecklers.
The Hill reported:
At the end of her remarks, she said, “Instead of fighting with us, which is your right to do, let’s work together.”
Pelosi would later complain about Code Pink protesters and refuse to meet with them, but that is a far cry from branding them un-American.
“Un-American” is an epithet Pelosi and other top Democrats save for the Right. Sen. Blanche Lincoln apologized for calling anti-Obamacare protests un-American, with a big whiff of political expediency. Pelosi, safely entrenched in San Francisco, has accused the GOP of being un-American time after time. It’s not difficult to find example after example of top Democrats questioning the patriotism of their opponents.
As for her attempted government takeover of the US healthcare system, Pelosi writes that “it is healthy for such a historic effort to be subject to so much scrutiny and debate,” and that “[t]he dialogue between elected representatives and constituents is at the heart of our democracy and plays an integral role in assuring that the legislation we write reflects the genuine needs and concerns of the people we represent.”
The reality is that Pelosi wanted the healthcare bill passed before the August recess and threatened to keeping the House in session through the August recess to pass its healthcare overhaul. She had no use for a dialogue between the members of her caucus and the voters who elected them.
Nor was she encouraging debate within the House of Representatives. Pelosi has run a more debate-free House than the GOP did from 199294-2006, and was willing to shut down the House to shut off debate about it. So it is no shock that Pelosi will not promise a week to review the final text of a health-care reform bill before a vote.
In sum, Speaker Pelosi is quite tolerant of disruptive protests, so long as they are on the Left. And if Pelosi is not the person most responsible for trying to shut down democratic debate on healthcare and other vital issues, she is certainly in the front row of the team photo. Is there a word for that?