Although 73 percent of Americans
favor offshore drilling, Speaker Nancy Pelosi won't allow the House of
Representatives to vote on the Republican bill to lift the drilling ban. In a
recent CNN interview, Pelosi said she has "no plans" to schedule a
vote on it because she opposes drilling in "protected areas." She is
contradicting the pledge she made in 2007 at her swearing-in as speaker:
"I accept this gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship, and I
look forward to working with you, [Minority Leader John] Boehner, and the Republicans
in Congress for the good of the American people." What's her excuse for
her recent stand? The Politico reported last week that she said,
"When you win an election, you win the majority, and what is the power of
the speaker? To set the agenda, the power of recognition, and I am not giving
the gavel away to anyone."
While this important legislation
stalls in the House, the speaker is traveling the country to promote her new
memoir, Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters (Doubleday,
$23.95). Last Monday she appeared on Today, The View, and The
Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She's visiting bookstores nationwide. At this
point the book seems to be tanking. Know Your Power is short--both in
length and substance. In just over 170 pages with large print and wide margins,
Pelosi races through her journey "from homemaker to House Speaker."
She chronicles her childhood in Baltimore as the daughter of Democratic
congressman and mayor Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., her entry into California
politics distributing fliers for Democratic candidates while pushing a
stroller, and the political rise that led her all the way to election as the
first female speaker of the House.
She tells America's daughters that
they can achieve anything if they "know their power." On the very
last page of text she tells women we can discover this "power" in
"our roots and our families," "our faith, our accomplishments,
and our values." She even gives some good advice to modern girls.
"It always made me sad when I
heard women reply to the question 'What do you do?' by saying 'I'm just a
housewife,'" she writes. "My message to women is to place a higher
value on the experience of being a mother and homemaker." Her own experience
certainly deserves respect: She didn't run for Congress until her youngest
child was a senior in high school, and she still managed to smash what she
calls the "marble ceiling."
But her positive message is
diminished by the tiresome feminist complaining that fills the
"self-help" book's pages. Is this what gives Nancy Pelosi
Despite her own story, Pelosi told Today
host Meredith Vieira on Monday, "I think sexism is all-pervasive in our
society." She added, "I don't make a big issue of it." Yet, she
Pelosi complains that when San
Francisco mayor Joe Alioto phoned to ask her to join the city Library
Commission, he asked if she was "making a great big pot of pasta e
fagioli." He "assumed that the only thing I could be doing at
five in the afternoon was cooking," she says--never mind that she happily
stayed home "cooking meals for five children for 20 years."
She complains about the "double
standard" in "the way in which the press--and the public,
too--examines a woman candidate's clothing and hair down to the
millimeter." But the only example she provides is a woman who compliments
Pelosi's designer suit on the campaign trail, thinking it is her "favorite
pattern. Simplicity 124!"
Even Pelosi's husband Paul is at
fault. Soon after they met, he asked her to pick up his shirts from the
drycleaner while she was there to collect her own. "How could he ever
have thought I would pick them up?" she asks, apparently unfamiliar with
the idea that friends do each other favors. "After we were married, he
once asked me to iron a shirt. That didn't happen either," says the
20-year stay-at-home wife and mother.
Pelosi warns young women about
"The Secret Sauce Club" among men "in Congress, a corporation, a
boardroom, or a campus." She explains, "Their message was, 'Only we
know the secret sauce for success; you don't, and you never will.'" She
doesn't provide any examples, but she does say, "It's going to take a
little more time--and a little more disruption--before the secret sauce
attitude completely disappears." She encourages America's daughters to run
for office and gain "many more seats at the table," but why would
they want to when they read her complaints?
Nancy Pelosi encourages young women
to forge their own paths, but explains that women will only succeed with the
help of Pelosi's self-proclaimed "San Francisco values":
"community, individual rights, and protection of the environment."
She says more women could run for office if they had access to "quality
child care." She doesn't explain what this means or who will pay, although
we can guess. She adds, "I consider my role in politics as an extension of
my role as a mom." Not only will Nancy Pelosi's mommy state provide women
with quality child care, but it will also provide affordable health care,
affordable college tuition, and address "the global climate crisis."
After all, as Pelosi told the Politico last week, she is "trying to
save the planet."
Last, Pelosi heralds bipartisan
cooperation and quotes her swearing-in speech: "Let us all stand together
to move our country forward, seeking common ground for the common good. We are
from different parties but we serve one country." She expresses this
sentiment soon after she describes fighting "the Republicans' culture of
corruption, cronyism, and incompetence." She says that the Capitol is
"the most beautiful building in the world because of what it represents:
the voice of the people"--unless of course the people support drilling for
And if readers need more evidence of
Pelosi's "bipartisanship," she provides an anecdote early in her
book. When the Pelosis moved to San Francisco, they couldn't find a house for
months. When the perfect house finally became available, Nancy learned that the
owner was moving to Washington to join the Nixon administration--and she
"could never live anyplace that was made available because of the election
of Richard Nixon." She writes that her youngest child, "who hadn't
been born yet, often says to me that she knows everything she needs to know
about me by hearing that story." We do, too--although we didn't need to
read her memoir to learn it.