By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
For 17 months, anger at President Obama and congressional Democrats has been pooling on the left. On Tuesday morning, it spilled onto the floor of an Omni Shoreham ballroom and splashed all over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The celebrated San Francisco liberal took the stage to greet what should have been a friendly audience: the annual gathering of progressive activists organized by the Campaign for America’s Future.
Instead, Pelosi was eaten by her own.
Just three minutes into her speech — right after she gave the triumphant news that “Change is here!” — two men stood up and spread out a large pink banner in front of the podium demanding “Stop Funding Israel Terror.”
At that moment, a wheelchair-bound woman named Carrie James began to scream from her table about 30 feet away: “I am not going to a nursing home!” At that cue, about 15 people in the crowd — who, like James, wore orange T-shirts demanding “Community Choice Act Now” — unfurled bedsheet banners and struck up a chant: “Our homes, not nursing homes!”
Bodyguards rushed forward and formed a six-person ring around Pelosi and the lectern. Leaders of the conference tried to take the speaker backstage until the disturbance could be quelled, but she brushed them off: “I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving,” she said. “You have made your point. I’m going to give my speech over your voices.”
And she did, for an excruciating half-hour. The hecklers screamed themselves hoarse, dominating Pelosi’s speech through her concluding lines: “I want to say thank you to Campaign for America’s Future for your relentlessness, for your dissatisfaction, for your impatience. That’s what I see every day in my district.”