The speaker was Nancy Pelosi. The date was January 17, 2006. The setting was a town hall meeting in San Francisco, captured on video and available at a Breitbart TV near you. The subject was the Iraq War. The president was George W. Bush. The surgery was Botox.
The authors are Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. The date is August 10, 2009. The context is an editorial in USA Today. The subject is protestors at health care townhall meetings across the country. The president is Barack Obama. The surgery is still Botox.
Pelosi passionately spoke of free speech rights and the necessity of hearing all viewpoints: “I say to the President, ‘Mr. President [Bush], if you think that our troops in Iraq are there to fight for democracy, do not destroy it at home by cutting off our freedom of speech.’”
She highlighted the critical, historical role of townhall meetings and the importance of face-to-face confrontations between congressmen and the voters they represent: “Democrats and Republicans… are starting to speak out [about the war]. And you know why? Because they’re hearing from home. There’s nothing more articulate, more eloquent to a member of Congress than the voice of his or her own constituent.”
Most importantly, she reminded listeners of the strengths of our uniquely American system of representative democracy, and advised them that there is no higher patriotic calling than standing up for what you believe in: “So I thank all of you who have spoken out for your courage, your point of view, all of it—your advocacy is very American and very important… So let’s not question each other’s patriotism when we have this very honest debate that our country expects and deserves.”
Her words were reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s defense of criticizing the Iraq War and the administration more generally: “Since when has it been part of American patriotism to keep our mouths shut and not raise questions about what our government is doing? That has always been the tradition of America.” And who could forget: “I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.”
Pelosi and Hoyer characterize health care townhall protests as “un-American” attacks. They portray the protestors as enemies, not just of reform, but of our very way of life: “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid… of differing views… Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.”
In a related development, the Obama administration asks Americans to send the White House any “fishy” comments or criticisms they hear about the health care bill, and the e-mail addresses of those who send them this information.
When anti-war protestors in the back of the San Francisco auditorium held up signs and loudly chanted, “No more funding the war!” thus drowning out Nancy Pelosi, she gamely replied, “I appreciate that you, as advocates, can say that. I appreciate that!” The chair of the event intervened on her behalf and pleaded, “Ladies and gentlemen, please, let’s not dissolve into a shouting match here,” but Pelosi cried, “That’s OK! That’s OK!”
Later, while in the middle of a sentence, Pelosi noticed a row of Code Pink protestors standing up and holding signs across the front of the stage. Pelosi jokingly called out, “Hello!” The chair, getting into the spirit of the thing, jovially observed, “This is the way we know we’re in San Francisco.” Pelosi heartily laughed and exclaimed, “And we love it!” The Code Pink protestors beamed.
Soon afterward, a woman in the audience began screaming about some conspiracy theory involving “bulldozing people’s homes.” Pelosi politely interjected, “Excuse me…” but the woman continued to yell while standing and waving a stack of papers. While audience members cried, “Shut up!” Pelosi soothingly reassured the woman, “I understand your anger,” and murmured “Yes… Yes…” as the woman rattled off her points.
Pelosi and Hoyer excoriate health care townhall protestors for their disorderly behavior: “[Their] tactics have included… shout[ing] “Just say no!” [and] drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.”
Pelosi inspiringly ended her address, “Let me close with this on the Democrats and how we see ourselves… When Franklin Roosevelt died—and I draw great inspiration from him, because he was a disruptor.” She added, “I’m a fan of disruptors,” as she pumped her fists up and down as though agitating a crowd.
Pelosi and Hoyer somberly write, “[I]t is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway… to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue.”
Well, that’s clear, then.