A visit to "Camp Pelosi" in front of Nancy Pelosi's house
San Francisco, March 14, 2007
What would it take for someone like me to have sympathy for someone like Nancy Pelosi? She is, after all, the most powerful woman in America at the moment. And she's been positively Machiavellian in her long political career. Not the type of person to arouse much sympathy from the average American.
But then again, the average American has never encountered the likes of Code Pink and its new offshoot, PelosiWatch.
You might think that Nancy Pelosi, being a liberal Democrat, would be a favorite of groups like Code Pink. Not so. The political goalposts have been moved so far to the left in recent years that Pelosi -- as liberal and as powerful as she is -- fails to meet the demands and expectations of Code Pink and similar activist groups. They want George Bush and Dick Cheney impeached. They want not just an end to the Iraq War, but an immediate end, a complete withdrawal of all troops right now. And she's failed her Code Pink constituents in a wide variety of other ways, as outlined on the PelosiWatch site.
So, if you were a frustrated activist, what would you do?
Become a stalker, of course.
Which is exactly what the PelosiWatch folks have done. Their goal is to personally harass and stalk Pelosi to such an extent that I'm surprised she hasn't taken out a restraining order against them.
I'd been tipped off ahead of time about CodePink's plan to march across the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday and stop for a rally at Pelosi's mansion in San Francisco's exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood. But I skipped that event. I got a bit more intrigued when I learned that the protesters, once denied entry to Pelosi's private home, refused to leave and instead camped out on her doorstep. Pelosi wisely declined to engage with her stalkers, instead brushing past them the next morning (see below for the video) on her way out to running the House of Representatives.
But when I read that yet more PelosiWatch stalkers planned to "occupy" Pelosi's San Francisco office as well, I began to get concerned for the poor woman. She had nowhere to hide from these people. Could CodePink have succeeded in stirring up in me sympathy for Pelosi?
I needed to see what was going on. So I went to Pelosi's house myself.
In front of the three-story brick mansion where Nancy Pelosi lives with her husband Paul, a small coterie of Code Pinkers had set up camp. They had already been there for three days when I showed up.
(I won't give the address here, because unlike the protesters I think that public figures and politicians deserve to have a private life, safe and undisturbed.)
They had dubbed it "Camp Pelosi." As you can see, the curtains were drawn in every window of the house.
A potpourri of signage left no doubt as to what Code Pink was demanding of Pelosi.
Nearby was the sleeping quarters -- mattresses dragged onto the sidewalk where the PelosiWatch folks would sleep at night. In the background, one of the protesters was strumming folk songs on a dulcimer.
KTVU, a local news station, was on hand early Monday morning when Pelosi was confronted by the protesters as she exited her home, grumbling audibly to them, "You aren't my constituents." Click on the video to play.
Ehren Watada, the soldier who refused to obey orders when deployed to Iraq, is a particular favorite of Code Pink.
Meanwhile, across town, at the exact same time that I was at Camp Pelosi, another group of Code Pink supporters walked into Pelosi's congressional office in the San Francisco Federal Building, intending to "occupy" it for the afternoon. One of the protesters on the inside surreptitiously took these photos and was kind enough to send them to me.
Pelosi was not available, so the protesters settled in for a long afternoon of occupation.
Back over at Camp Pelosi, trouble was brewing. A local resident walked by and started chewing out the Code Pinkers for befouling the neighborhood for days on end. I don't remember her exact words, but it was something along the lines of, "Look at this mess! What's the matter with you people? Can't you just leave us alone?"
The protesters tried to argue, but the passerby would have none of it: "Get out of my neighborhood!" The dispute went on for quite some time.
But not everyone was unhappy with Camp Pelosi. Other residents happened by and showed polite interest in the scene.
What were these unfamiliar feelings? Was I really starting to feel sympathy for Nancy Pelosi?
Unable to sort it all out in my head, I walked just a few blocks down to the Exploratorium, San Francisco's science museum which is quite near Pelosi's house, where, by sheer coincidence, they were celebrating Pi Day.
Yes, Pi Day. It was March 14th -- 3.14 2007. Get it?
Pi Day Celebrations
Pi Day just also happens to be Einstein's birthday. Pi enthusiasts such as this one (and yes, there seem to be quite a lot of them, judging from the overflow crowd) poured into the Exploratorium to celebrate all things Pi.
Pi may be irrational, but on this day it seemed more rational than Code Pink.
Things got rolling with some hip young scientists performing the Einstein Rap, along with an Einstein marionette.
Click here to watch the Einstein Rap.
At exactly 1:59pm (3.14 1:59 -- clever!) there was a parade of Pi-heads, each carrying one of the digits of pi in exact descending order.
Click here to watch the start of the parade.
Next up was a pizza-dough throwing exhibition for the kids, followed by a free sampling of pizza pie donated by local eateries.
To wrap up the event, we were treated to some amazing recitations of Pi by math whizkids, who had memorized the exact value of Pi out to hundreds of decimal places. Click on the video to watch one of the kids in action. Inspirational!
Ah, Pi. Now there's something -- unlike the motivations of Code Pink and PelosiWatch -- that I can understand.