tv Molly Ball Pelosi CSPAN January 12, 2021 7:52am-8:56am EST
trump of his powers using the 25thamendment . on c-span2 9:30 a.m. set armed services committee holds civilian control of the armed forces. members will also discuss the nomination of retired army general lloyd austin to be the next defense secretary. 12:30 p.m., the u.s. senate needs a pro forma session. the president trump visits a border town in texas to mark the completion of 400 miles of border fencing. >> hello and welcome to cnc live, my name is long and i work at politics and prose. thank you for joining us in our online form that we are continuing our proud tradition of politics and prose all that's pretty you love to our community. at any time during the week
click the green button below to purchase tonight on tnt's website and where offering five dollar media mail shipping is especially as our physical stores are closed and we need online purchases to bring you programming we are known for.tonight you can ask for all question you asked thequestion . down to thebottom of your screen . in that box can also read other people's questions the ones you like to hear answered the most. our later that are interested, the author host and audience members see, [inaudible] onto the. molly ball, "time magazine" award-winning national political correspondent draws on interviews to track policies extraordinary career election to congress in t7 ruger legislative questions universal healthcare and the
military through her confrontations with trough and managing his impeachment. molly is going in conversation by mark leibowitz, respondent for new york times magazine author of the nfl in dangerous times. welcome molly and mark. >> thanks everyone. >> i guess we are on. i like this. we are here, yes. i'm mark and this is molly overon the other side of the screen . what's great first of all, we have a lot of people here. according to the number on the bottom of the screen we have 428 people. >> probably most of them are russian boss. >> first of all, thank you president and mrs. obama and clinton and carter and bush for coming . everyone in the audience, so anyway thank you for asking me to do this and thanks for being here. this is a really great book and i will tell you that i
read the last couple of days and it took me maybe a and a half. it was a pure pleasure to do and i was i knew molly off-line beforeyou can see us i hope . it's both a pleasurable b-tree kind of thing and at the same time it will be one of those historical things where if you want to learn about probably one of the two or three most consequential people of this century so far politically, you will have a document that will tell you everything you need to know about nancy pelosi. so i have 1 million questions and i know you do too so what i'm going to do is we're going to talk and ask questions for about a half hour and turn it over to you all with questions and there's a way to i guess ask questions which they can figure out orwe will figure out for you and so forth . but molly, do you want to say something off the top or do you want me to just jump in
with the questionsbecause i got a bunch . >> kumar. i'm a huge admirer of your writing and appreciate you doing this. yes, when the fire? just do the. >> so you have never written a book for this is your first i assume you have horror stories about what is like to write a book or you've heard all these triumphant stories about how great the process is. what was it like? did you like doing this, is it something you would recommend to someone who's never done it before can mark did exceed expectations, did not meet expectations, what was it like ? >> i was totally miserable, i would not recommend it. it definitely reminded me of childbirth in the sense that people tell you how excruciating it's going to be and you sort of go sure, a lot of pain but you don't really internalize exactly
how that's going to be until you go through it yourself. and like oh my god, this is really hard. people have done much harder things, i don't want to exaggerate or feel sorry for myself but it's hard to write a book and it's hard to write a book about a moving target. i was constantly trying to figure out where i was going to end it given that the wonderful characteristic of my subject that she's so active in politics and therefore interesting to people but it means she kept making it difficult to finish the book . when i went through the process of researching and reporting and interviewing people was right before and leading up to and during when impeachment was getting underway and we thought that was going to be the big story of the 20/20 election cycle and now it looks like maybe not . it was a challenge but definitely very fulfilling. i feel like not only i learned a lot from it but also as you know, when you
report on politics day in and day out it seems there are themes that you develop in your writing. there's things that you start to feel like your understanding and a lot of dimensions on politics . so for me this was a week read all together bringing together years of reporting and writing of congress, about women in politics, about the way thepolitical system works and the congress works . and as you know also as a magazine writer you always write more work than their willing to put in the magazine so it's nice to have 300 pages to spell it all out . >> what made you decide that nancy pelosi was the onethat would be worthy of however long this took ? >> honestly, all political figures i have written about, she was the one that's a big enough for a book, big enough and significant enough that i really could take that deep
dive into her area as i write about i was assigned to profile her for "time magazine" when i started working there in 2017. first i sort of wasn't that thrilled about the assignment, i didn't think she was all that interesting frankly and it was only once i got in there and started learning about her and thinking about her and thinking about all of the again themes and characteristics of her career that i really started to think there were a lot of layers here to unpack, a lot of interesting history and residence and just stuff people don't know about her, stuff ididn't know about her . and i actually had a conversation with david meredith a few years ago when i was trying to come up with a book to write and i can come up with anything and i said how did you know you had something that was worthy of a book rather than like a long article and he said you just have to beobsessed with it . that's the first subject i've
been obsessed way with that initially issue. >> david is always a great person for both inspiration and to put you in the right headspace for something like that . i would say so, you mentioned in the text or maybe part of this was i think in and notes but also in the text you implied. she's not a great interview. she's not, i mean she doesn't make it fun orshe doesn't make it easy . >> .. she's really interesting
because so much of politics is about communication. i don't think she will ever be a great political orator of her age. that's not to say she's not bright and articulate and thoughtful, and she isn't one of these robotic politicians that so stiff because they're terrified at saying the wrong thing. that they just repeat themselves over and over and won't answer any questions. she is in some of the gauges and really public introspection. she's not critically all the things she's been thinking about herself. you have to figure out. she is not an storyteller. that's part of it. a lot of really compelling political speech the fires do naturallyspeaking stories, reeling off his personal anecdotes and this conspicuous absence of that in most of her public speaking. it was really kind of an occasion for me to reflect on the role of communication and perception and politics in studying her thinking about what his relationship to how, between
how a politician is received and what they actually do. and how much of that other responsible for, how much of that is our society responsible for, how much does it say about the person being perceived. i do want to get to like deconstructionist on you but we hear about this all the time with the president for example. a lot of his defenders will save people get mad at his tweets and so if a look at what he does. a lot of his critics will say no, what he says matters just as much of what he does. i don't think there's quite that disjunction in nancy pelosi. by the other thing about it is as a communicator i would say that the thing you really get to understand about is that everything with there is but result. everything is about what she's going to get out of whatever the interaction is whether it's an interview, whether it is being on television, giving a speech
at a fundraiser, whatever. she's just much more interested in driving a message home and she is in making you like her or making herself feel good or even making an audience applauded. it's about what is it i'm trying to communicate here, and how many times do i have to repeat it for you to get the message. >> right. that's a great point. a couple of days ago i managed for the first time aoc who are i never in a good before and who is a bit of kind of a shadow to an explosive some ways, as a very progressive sort of insurgent in the house that nancy pelosi runs. aoc, and she said in a quote to me come up in her feelings all the time. she is very vulnerable, very open, millennial that way. i am wondering if you ever had any location to see nancy pelosi
do pull a build at all wonder if she ever let herself -- i'm wondering what it feels like in some ways, and what should let you see, what it's like to be attacked the way she is, targeted the way she is, mischaracterized the way she is and so forth? >> i wouldn't say i got a sense of vulnerability from her. i didn't feel like she let her guard down enough to get a little snippy with me which was nice. she finally sort of felt like -- she is not an emotive person certainly anything to write that the something generational about that. i think the generation she comes from being born in 1940 come she's now 88 you comes a much more sort of formal error, particularly for women. and i think as you alluded to as
well you can't separate her the way she carries herself from how she has been come has been true to come how she's been turned into this bogeyman, a punching bag that is literally republicans made an ad called attack the 50-foot pelosi, stopping on people. politics, i'm not saying any that is a necessary unfair but when just the subject of that kind of onslaught you do build yourself a pseudo-farmers. she is describe yourself that way. she said it put on a suit of armor and go into battle. you throw a punch and take a punch. she very much sees politics as combat, and she is renowned for her toughness, for stealing this, for her discipline. i think a lot of that comes from just refusing to be vulnerable in public and refusing to let anyone ever see her sweat.
>> do you have any sense that there is anyone in today's, or any element of today's republican party that she feels that she could have some kind of good faith dealing with either in the house or in the administration? >> she certainly like some of the republican governors. she's been dealing directly with a lot of the popular blue state republican governors who have been on the front lines of the coronavirus response. i recently profiled the governor of maryland marilyn larry hogau someone who has gotten to know nancy pelosi a little bit. i think surprisingly to them both. i think she's what of these, you do this lot from democrats, like i miss the old republican party back when republicans were nice and gentle and you could deal with them. but look she was literally born into the democratic party. there's never been any doubt
about her partisan loyalties. she describes her upbringing that way. she said it was the catholic church and the democratic party where she came from, and there is an amazing anecdote early in the book where she just moved to california with her husband. they had for four young childr. they would soon have another and they just moved from san francisco where she knows nobody and she is stayed with her mother-in-law, which is pretty unpleasant for everyone involved, not that they didn't like each other but i don't think anyone wants to live with her mother-in-law for a long time and there frantically tried to find house. they finally find the perfect place. it's got a yard, a a swingset, it's a rental and it's perfect for the family. as they are about to sign the papers i think, literally turns to the other and says, why are
you ready at your house but the owner says we are moving to washington. my husband is accepting a job in the nixon administration. we're so excited. she turns to the real estate broker and his win at taking it. i refuse to live and house made available by the election of richard nixon. she's always been a democratic partisan and not have particular love for the republican party. but that said, she is accomplished a lot of things on a bipartisan basis throughout her career and i think i understand the wish operates it's much more about knowing what your convictions are, having a very firm since of your values and where you come from, and then understand what the other side is coming from and trying to find a way to meet somewhere in the middle that satisfies both parties. it isn't about can she go get a drink with john boehner, can she go schmooze with mitch mcconnell. she's not about a politician
like chuck schumer, the democratic leader in the senate, is more about that sort of schmoozing relationship and the affection between human beings, at a think that's not the way our politics works. she's much more about counting votes and doing the deal. >> what is your sense of what she cares about right now in the sort of ongoing stimulus negotiations? it strikes me that democrats are talking all the time about vote by mail, about elections, protections, to sort of making sure that whatever happens in november is safe, on the level and so forth. and yet you don't see these things, you don't see the leverage nancy pelosi now has ever come out of those. what is your sense of how those next round of negotiations might go especially given how important this issue seemed to be with democrats? >> it's been interesting to
watch. she always is sort of on the tight rope i guess you could say but it is a a high wire act for her where you have the left saying she's not pulling enough against republicans and republicans calling her an obstructionist for not immediately giving them everything they want. she's got to balance those competing demands and i think what you see is she recognizes urgency of this moment. she knows action has to happen fast and that's hard in a caucus as gridlocked and acrimonious as this one. but she also feels the american people put the democrats in charge of the house of representatives for a reason and, therefore, they deserve a seat at the table. in the early rounds at some of these negotiations towards these massive trillion dollar bills they've been passing the was an attempt to go around her cutter out. mitch mcconnell did not agree to a demand to have what they call for mick cornett negotiations between the leaders
of the house and senate with white house. and she said look, i need to be at the table. i need to be part of this discussion and i'm willing to be reasonable and give up some of my initial demands, but i need to be at that table. i think that's what she's trying to balance .4. some of the things you reference, something like the funding for state and local governments, that something about of republican and democratic leaders out there in states and localities are squawking about and i think she calculated in the last round of negotiations that it would become politically impossible for republicans to continue to deny that funding. we do see initially mitch mcconnell take up the position they were not going to bail out the states because it was sort of the states problem for not being fiscally responsible enough to put billions aside for
a century come once in a century pandemic. and i think she realized we're seeing it happen that became politically untenable for the republicans because of a lot of republican senators and members are saying my state needs this can we can't just say no to them. >> do you have a sense her power was ever truly threatened by within the caucus? i guess probably the last time would've in 2017, right? tim ryan of ohio, did he ever run against her? >> he did in 2016 but not in 2018. >> okay. especially lately some younger people of talked about this. do you have a sense of other than going back and forth between majority and minority she was ever threatened from inside the caucus? >> there was a fair amount of angst about her leadership during those years in the minority which are really
thankless for the democratic caucus. a lot of house democrats were very frustrated they had the same leaders for 13, 15, 17 years and that these leaders are now in their upper '70s, early '80s and a lot of people felt it was time for a fresh face. for reasons of perception mostly feeling like, and for reasons of personal ambition to a lot of house democrats felt they should have turned to move up the ladder and because it was frozen in place by the top leadership, that wasn't fair to a lot of members with great potential for leadership. also because she been the subject of so many attacks, because the republicans have spent probably hundreds of millions of dollars, turning her into this bogeyman, that she become sort of politically toxic particularly for democrats in republican leaning districts who needed to keep their seats to get the majority.
and so the thing was if she was not there to be the subject of those attacks it would be better politics for the democrats. what you really get who was i think someone else could do a better job managing house. i think someone else could do a better job shaping these complex pieces of legislation. that was never the appeal of some like tim right to challenge her in 2016 or others who did not run against term but tried to ouster from the speakership in 2018. it really never was about what she sees as her job which is legislating. it was much more about the internal factor. >> do you think if things go well for democrats in november, democrats keep the house, is it conceivable they could keep the same leadership team going forward and if biden wins they can have lex the same people with the same age, status quo?
i guess this is a crystal ball thing that is this probably the last hurrah in some ways for this team? >> i don't know and i have a firm policy against making predictions. one bit of fresh reporting in the book actually i don't think it's been previously reported that back in 2018 that was at leadership race where she worked very hard to defuse this challenge. she could afford to lose less than% of the caucus of the vote in order to be elected speaker again. she had to win over almost everyone in that large unruly ideologically and demographically diverse robotic caucus. so one of the conditions that she finally accepted to make this sort of vital deal to get those votes was she agreed to a term limit, that would force
down by 2022. now there's some asterisk on it, there is conditions base of you said she could serve no more than two more terms, and the next one, and according to the book she walked into her next meeting is that i wasn't giving anything away because only plan to stay for one term anyway. a lot has changed since then but it does reveal at least at the time, and this also by the weight of the a lot about negotiating tactics and this is one of the great tactics is a fake concession, to pretend it's terribly painful to get something up, but actually you're not giving up at all because you either, you didn't mind giving it up where you didn't want it in the first place. there's various points in the book where you see her in these negotiating postures or she pretends that she's giving up something terribly painful and actually she's not.
>> does studying her help you anyway as you are a parent of three young kids pgh yes i really think it has. i think a lot of the negotiating tactics came from her expense as a mother, some who it by children in six years, and by all accounts and an extremely disciplined household. there's a friend of nancy pelosi wants that you she knew she was destined for political success because ship five in children all holding their own laundry, which that's a major goal. i'm not there yet with my three kids but if you think about it, toddlers and politicians have a lot in common. they are basically narcissistic, unreasonably to the end. but if you can make them feel like their egos is in place you can get them to do what they want. i do feel like some of the
negotiating tactics that i learned from watching nancy pelosi do come in handy when you're dealing with children. the fake concession. some of the ones i like is that name your price, right, where you say to someone what do i have to do? than in the price to think is outlandish or impossible like welcome sure. we don't want to let you do this on the national mall but if you could find a way to lift up the quilt every 20 minutes so the grass can breathe, then you can depict do to jesus okay fine, and she gets the volunteers to all stand around the sides of the aids quilt and every 20 minutes they left the quotes of the grass can breathe and at that point that no choice but to say we didn't think you could satisfy the condition but you did so we have to give you what you want. >> it's an interesting, i wasn't
-- you mentioned she represented san francisco if that was an issue that is very, very close to her, given what she represents, a lot of people she knows and she's been around for a while, was doing this in the '80s. do you think she has -- mitch mcconnell has taught in some ways about covid outbreak and remind him of his own experience with polio during the polio outbreak when he was going up. are there any echoes at all between what we are living tonight and also sort of just the uncertainty, this being out of control and having this new insecurities that can be very fatal? just sort of taking over everything. i'm wondering if this is something you've ever heard her talk about or she would see any parallels at all? >> i haven't heard her make the comparison. i have heard everything she said in the past few weeks but it do
think there are parallels. one of the parallels frankly, republican president at the time was very slow to acknowledge the extent of the crisis and that something we have seen play out abundantly in the current situation. and at the time it took years for president reagan even to say the words hiv or aids. so that part of what she was a part of working with advocates for the gay community, other members who cared about the issue, she wasn't alone for one of the things she really had to do first before she could get help for the victims of the crisis was to raise awareness of the crisis and convince everybody on both ends of the political spectrum it was a problem that had to be dealt with, that the federal government had to grapple with. one of the things she did early on was to mail a booklet to every constituent interdistrict
of the surgeon general sort of information about aids, to buckle up the myth around the disease, he can't get it from hugging, you can get it from a toilet seat, whatever, and just to get that information out and the federal government ended up doing the same thing shortly thereafter, send to hundreds of means of households information packets the people understood the disease and then they could proceed to respond to it. >> this could be in the category, i'm not going to ask you to make a prediction at all but its speculative and then i present a hypothetical and had to take a swing at it. in november the democrats keep the house, nancy pelosi stays on as speaker and donald trump is reelected. and let's say the senate goes 50-50 as a technically mike
pence for over the vice president is would have the deciding vote. do you see anything salvageable in the pelosi's trump relationship that could actually make that, those two most powerful figures in washington if that scenario arose from his anything, do you think they could do with each other? do you think there is middle ground? do you think if they are both in the political positions are such that they don't have to get reelected again, do you see anything happening between the two of them knowing what you know about the? >> i doubt it was because of the personal relationship. they haven't spoken in months and exposed because trump for impeaching him. she is much more cold-blooded about these things. she doesn't let her personal feelings decide whether non-she's going to do was somewhat on policy and she does have a firm set of policy convictions which it's fair to say factually the president does
not. she spent a lot of time trying to negotiate with it on infrastructure. this is something when donald trump talks about building roads and bridges he sounds like a democrat. he wants to build lots of stuff, and she kept coming to that negotiating table until he walked away. he was the one who slammed his hands down on the table in the middle of an infrastructure negotiation and said i can't talk to you as long as this witch hunt is going on. she was willing to deal, to continue the policy negotiations even as impeachment and all investigations were underway but the president was not. so as long as the president is going to stiff arm her there's nothing she can do about that. i think she's willing and she also asthmatic politics is obsessed with trying to show the american people that democrats are interested so the house is passing all these hundreds of
bills that are sitting on mitch mcconnell stressed because she does want people to know that she wants to send that message that they can trust the democrats is put in charge of things to be responsible to in the partisanship and gridlock, not to run out of control towards the left wing of the party and desires but can be sensible and actually get things done. this is part of why she continues to say and if don't think she's lying, we would do a bill on infrastructure, we would get a bill on prescription drugs, there are some areas build at least and rhetoric but the negotiations i think it's fair to say are not ongoing. >> i now see a picture of you. i don't see the live version of you. i don't know if i'm the only one but anyway i can hear you so i will proceed. >> molly, could you refresh your browser really quickly?
>> sure. >> cool. >> i can still see it here at one fine. >> i do, too. i'm getting a low bit of feedback is all. sorry, everybody. sorry to halt the conversation that we will have a backup running really quickly. >> there you are. >> thank you. >> jimmy choo impeachment. how did she get to impeachment for a while? what was it the broader are bound? was it just the facts of the ukraine case or was it something else or ditch the election no choice given where the caucus was? >> i think it was both. she felt it had to be done on the merits and also position the caucus particularly the vulnerable members of the caucus politically had moved to. she does not like the suggestion
that she caved or that she was following rather than leaving the caucus. it's fair to say she always sought as a points of -- a pointless endeavor. she lives to the clinton impeachment which she thought was a joke. that's what she always shoups ford. she thought it was basically a political persecution a part of the republican party, that really for class reasons did not see bill clinton as legitimate president. and then when she first became speaker in 2007 she faced a constant drumbeat of calls from the left to impeach president bush she had code pink protesters roaming the halls of congress everyday and camped out in new york and san francisco and the antiwar activist ran against her in the primary over this unwillingness to impeach president bush. it wasn't as loud a drumbeat as
we had these past couple of years but those another experience that informed her to say i didn't give into it then because i thought it be divisive and pointless, i think she felt the same way and she still feels that same way. she looks at impeachment in the rearview mirror and says we had to do it, the president forced us to get because of his conduct, but what did accomplish? you really don't see the point of this precedent that you know is not going to remove the president, you know it's adequate achieve anything tangible. she always says impolitic shift in no your why and her why is the children, the children, the children. she always is going to look at any particular political problem and say how does this feed a hungry child or improve the lives of workers somewhere in right around the world? all impeachment did interview
was sort of put on this divisive show that didn't accomplish anything. she would say and i think she does feel one thing it accomplished was to put an asterisk next to president trump state in history book. she always says he has been impeached and he can't do anything to change that. but at the net i think it is few it was kind of pointless. >> do you think she has regrets about that? >> she's not a person who has regrets. quite literally, i've asked her many times, do you regret? she says i don't do that. i don't give regrets. she doesn't do regrets and she doesn't do fear. >> is anything, she always had a certain personal i don't know if if it is fondest but there was, president bush with someone she used to call a gentle than all the time. she still does. they had some moments that she
remembers and they seem to have had something come it was at least some kind of warm fuzzy. do you think there's anything about donald trump that she is in use for, any respect for? >> no, i don't think so. if she were, again i don't speak for her and and i don't want tr pertain to. but when i asked her a version of this question, she's careful to say she doesn't disrespect the people who voted for him. she doesn't want to be caught in a sort of basket of deplorables moment. the metaphor she uses which i find entertaining is did you ever know some who is dating a jerk? you can't tell that person that their dating a jerk or go to stop being friends with you. try to subtly show them what he is doing to them. she says i hope these people realize what the president is doing to them, as she says, but i don't blame them for being
enthralled with him. >> interesting way of looking at it. have they read the book or has her office -- was a last round of fact checking and do you have any sense may know what's in it? >> they have had the book since it came out. i do want to be perfectly clear that the speaker and her staff had no editorial control of the book. it is my book, my characterization. she was helpful in terms of giving interviews and allowing me to interview a lot of people around her but this does not authorized in the sense that she signed up on the content. >> has she ever done an authorized biography? >> she has written a memoir with the writer and there's a lot of
good material in there that i drew on in the book but so, they had the book and the been pretty busy from i understand so i don't know whether she's had a chance to flip through it. >> i'm sure she's watching us. >> i will continue to report on her, so i continue to interact with her stuff. >> i don't mean to focus us of the aesthetic but cover is great and also like the lack of subtitle because theirs is home subtitle and desha complex in political books where you have your title and then let's give the whole game weight in the endless subtitle. how did they decide, i know this is not, there are other graphics people but what made you decide to very colorfully call it "pelosi" with nothing else and
that graphic eu's? >> percival had have to give at out to my publisher. the designers came up with this. i never would've come up with something so hip and stylish. i love the cover. it is so eye-catching and captures her, , captures the toe of the book, captures a lot of what i've been talking about about the ways the cold dress cut up to her brand of femininity after many years of sort of abuse. but also i think everyone knows who it is about from the title. i kept people slack in need a subtitle to communicate why this topic the writing that is significant. if i were writing about some lesser-known figure i would need a subtitle to tell you this is a man who detonated the atomic bomb that blew up or whatever. that person would probably be pretty famous but everyone knows
who she is. there's only one person you're talking about with nancy pelosi and for all of his wonderful qualities, it isn't her husband paul. i think that was, i like the simplicity of it. i like the simplicity of the cover design. i also think it speaks for itself in that she is the figure who is already plenty famous enough. people are going to know who she is when they pick up the book. >> you don't have to sell the subject. this is a nice luxury. what made you decide to that such, to sort of, what made you decide to such an unintrusive voice in the book? you have the sense of what it's like like in the room with them, like what it's like to talk to
them, the author's voice comes through. you can talk about your own experience. you really stand back. i'm wondering how you decided to write in the voice that you did and if you had to develop overtime as you are getting into the narrative? >> i'm not sure if it was really even a conscious decision. i often you write in the first person. i think they can help bring a reader into the story like you said. in this case i just wanted to tell her story almost in the novelistic fashion. i wanted to do if you like the work of storytelling more than what the reporting period so there's not a lot of direct quotes in the book, sort of contemporaneous quotes. there's not a lot of people i interviewed looking back and reflecting on things that happened because i wanted to kp in the moment. i wanted people to feel like
they were experiencing this sort of as it happened but it's tricky. i've never written a book before come never done about it before. it's an interesting problem at all biographers can find someone to be inside and outside your subject at the same time, right? one to see things through their eyes but also wanting to be able to look at objectivity and distance to show how they are perceived by others and to be somewhat skeptical of the stories they tell themselves which we all do. people will judge whether or not i did that successively but that was what i was trying to achiev achieve. >> i just got a text that said -- okay, i'm moving to q&a when we get a chance. we are going to turn this over to our audience and we are going to take questions. let's see, so is there like some
way you can ask questions? i'm just sort of for myself at the mercy of technology and hoping at some point in the very near future there will be questions that appear before me and you will ask them in some way. >> there's a question q what says ask the question. if you click on that the list comes up of the questions. >> here we go. all right. i will pick which one works this is a good one. i don't know if i should name -- martín asks, what is the most surprising thing you learned about speaker pelosi? >> hard to say at this point but i think one of the things that really surprised me about her was her aggression, frankly, her assertiveness, her boldness. she came up at a time when it
was not really culturally acceptable for women to be strong and a certain and aggressive but she's a real risk taker. she's a gambler in some ways. she's willing to put yourself out there. she's always wanting to giving people's faces so, so this is now familiar to people from ripping up trump's speech and chasing down a reporter who accuse her of hating the president saying don't mess with me. this goes all the way back to the earliest days of cryptic she's always been willing to get in people's faces and stick up for herself. it comes from -- also from her sort of sense of feminism that she always felt able to advocate for herself in that way. when my favorite lesser-known stories from her career that's in the book is about our activism on human rights in china. this is someone who, in 1991,
travel to beijing with some of our colleagues and then on the last day of their state sanctioned trip they told the chinese authorities they were too tired to go on the tour of the great wall here they snuck out the back of the hotel, took a taxi to to them and square and one of the congressman she was with who come fight back, played to do on the dukes of hazard, he had smuggled this banner in his underwear from hong kong and he pulled it, they pulled out and is said people die for democracy. democracy. they were attacked by the chinese police who chased them out of the square and you actually detain some of the journalists who were covering this. you can still the video of this incident. she quite literally -- bodily harm in order to stage this very bold demonstration for what she believed in.
politically as well. back in 2002 when the lot of the top democrats including the democratic leader at the time, including people like hillary clinton and john kerry thought it would be that politics to oppose the iraq war and she came out against it and she encouraged our colleagues and she whipped against the war resolution, against her own leadership because she believed so strongly that the war was the wrong thing to do and because as the top democrat on the intelligence committee she had seen the case for of what the administration was presenting and she didn't think it stood up to scrutiny. so i think she's known for toughness, known for her steely mess but that kind of boldness which i think powder to where she is today, it was the boldness to run for leadership when literally the woman had ever had a top leadership
position in either house of coast. she still the only woman to lead her party in a house of congress and chest to take on the male-dominated establish and to do that. to only 221 and house of representatives when she got there in 1987 out of 435 members. she was, and when she said she wanted him when she heard through the grapevine that the assortment in power were saying was who said she could run work she's always been some who said i don't need your permission. i'm going to do because i believe i can do it. >> this is a question from therese. did pelosi have frustration with obama and obama cabinet relative and experience pgh yes. that is a big theme of the sort of book about the obama era, was that, she and obama became very
close. they have a lot of mutual respect and trust and like, and so i don't want to make it seem like there's any sort of grudge between them. it was a theme of congressional coverage throughout the obama years that democrats in the house and senate never felt like the president gave enough attention to them, never felt he was a particularly great negotiator working together with the republicans. they always felt like he gave up too much up front, that he was willing, that he was so, he had made this promise of bipartisanship and consensus in healing the country and bringing people together, so the republicans realize right off the bat he can't do this if we don't go along with it and we can keep you from fulfilling his promise and hurt him politically. i think she realized that a long time before he did and so she was frustrated he continued to go to great lengths to try to get republicans to do things
with him when she didn't think they were negotiated in good faith. she didn't think the river had any intention of cooperating, and so a lot of the frustration came from that dynamic. >> using an expert book accountability myself i see the questions, the most votes they want me to ask i am going to ask. i have been very impressed with speaker pelosi's ability to bring together diverse factions of the democratic party even on the most challenging issues. what strategies did you identify in how she's able to do this so effectively? >> that is a great question and it's one i spent a lot of time thinking about. this is like the great strength. when you think about it stands in great contrast to the republican speakers who preceded her, the house more or less fell apart while john boehner and paul ryan were in charge of the republican caucus, the entire house technically, but they were
unable to keep her caucus together and think a lot of people said their caucus is so diverse, you have those unreasonable freedom caucus people come here people from more liberal districts, more conservative districts, more urban districts, more rural districts. but the democratic caucus is far more diverse than the republican caucus both demographically and ideologically and yet, and have been some quite fractious disagreements between different factions of the caucus session can you still having. >> which you are good. i'm sorry. >> good to see you. but she is, and you know, from the time she became democratic leader she has always put a premium on party discipline, change some of the rules of the caucus, change some of the rules of the house to make it harder and more painful for members to vote against the caucuses
position. she can be very tough but i think similar to her mothering strategies, she wields the carrot and stick very expertly and she's very good at letting people know that she is not mad at you, just disappointed, and that feeling of disappointment is very acute if you sort of cross her, you may live to regret it. but it comes down to, i mentioned some of these negotiating strategies and there are certain concrete tips and tricks you could point to what it ended up concluding in a larger sense is that it really is just an incredible understand that human nature on her part. she has an incredible memory for details and for people, never forgets a face, always knows not only who you are, which i can't even tell apart all the members
of the house of representatives much less than the other needs and where they come from machine that only knows that, she knows your spouse and your parents and your pets and what your priorities are come with issues you be interested in, what caucuses you are a member of, but the makeup of your district is and what might be difficult for you to do politically. she's got all of that and the file in your head and then she just knows all of her people. she maintains those relationships. she makes everybody feel they have been listened to and have been heard and a lot of times that's all it takes. she seems to endless time to just listen to people and she will wear them out. if she's trying to talk some of it is something she will keep them in the negotiating session until late kind of give up and relate because she has outlasted them. >> i want to recognize we now have over 500 people on our
attendance list here, so before asked the next question i i wat to thank everyone for coming and also there will be a separate pitch for this but since were all on computers there's going to be a tendency to want to merely by this on kindle or something like that and you're not permitted to do that. he should do on politics and prose either online or some kind of ordering thing they can tell you about. thank you all for being here. the next question is, it's actually falling of on what yoe talking about, which is did you talk to nancy pelosi about what it was like growing up in a political family in baltimore? the reason that hurt an echo from what you just entering is that no one knowing faces and names and writing thank you notes is an old school political way and him wondering whether she sort of talked about water political background was like
and how it was applied to running congress? >> absolutely. her father was a congressman from baltimore when she was born and by the time she was telling him he had become the mayor of baltimore. this is old-school democratic machine, urban politics where there's patronage, trading, all the different demographics in the city have a political boss who controls the votes and you have to pay court to that person. i think you can see a lot of that old school political style in the legislative tactics she uses. at the same time a lot of what i tried to do in the early chapters of this book is refocus attention on her mother because i think it's so natural to see the political heritage intifada because of course she did go into the family business but she is always taken pains to say that she was shaped equally the influence of her mother. she talks very openly which i think is interesting about how
her mother felt stifled in her life and about how her mother was never able to achieve her dreams and goals because she was a woman and about her mother wanted to be an auctioneer,, wanted to go to law school, wanted to market and sell a beauty product she invented and patented, and her husband would not give her his signature which women need at the time in order to do things like that. she was very shaped, and not to be stereotypical about it that her mother was a very strong and assertive italian american lady, also not afraid to get up and post basis. there's a story once she punched a poll worker in the face she was mad at, and she ran a lot of the political operations for her husband. she never got the credit. her name wasn't on the ballot but she was a the run running the constituent services operation, they call it the favorite file out of the family
parler where it would take people's names come write them on a pad, refer people for services it continued to sink it into housing project or into the hospital or a job or whatever. her mother was a big part of that work, and the last thing ii would say about her political heritage is that it's very ground level, very grassroots. if you are an urban politician you have to know every block, you have to in every precinct. you can't run a campaign is with a bunch of expensive television ads. you have to get out there and pound the pavement and do the work. that is still the advice she gives to candidates that she recruits to run for office, and it's still the way she thinks about electoral politics is precinct by precinct, block by block down at the ground level. her older brother who also later became mayor of baltimore and it was a great friend and mentor to her called it human nature in
the raw. i love that description of ground-level politics. >> we have time for a couple more questions. best, you can text me if we should wrap it up but anyway, this question has a lot of support from the voters so i will ask this from jessica. has nancy pelosi of an interest in running for president or the senate? do you think that makes her more powerful in the house? >> know and just to those two questions. she has never -- there was a time when she was up-and-coming in politics when she was newish to the house and once in while she would be on somebody's long list of potential vice presidential candidate. but she always said she was interested. she's never been gold in cancer
she might be interested in higher office. every politician says this. it's part of the repertoire that is some you are you just look at the next rung of the ladder, you're supposed to say no, i'm focused on my work and the great people of the fifth district, so one. i think she's been saying that for long enough it is become illegal. it is a big part of her power, very smart observation by jessica, i could jessica, because her members know that she isn't trying to make a name for herself. she isn't, her predecessor as leader of the democrats dick gephardt, eggeling if he he wanted to be president. he ran for president before. he is going to run for president again in 2004, ended when you as much as he was guarding their interest and running a caucus in the house, he also had his eye on the next thing and he had a personal ambition and stake in
what was going on that diverted his focus. she's never had that. no member of her caucus thinks that she is just trying to hack a resume so she can seek the next rung up on the ladder so that gives a lot of credibility and telling her members she's focused on looking out for their interests. >> i even told this is the last question and it's going to go with majority rules here, so 13 people have voted for this question. this is from jeff. what kind of access did you get to the speaker? >> she gave me a series of interviews, and i been covering her since before started by the book so i interviewed her previously prior to starting work on the biography. i would not say we became friends. she never inviting in and showed me around her house are introduced me to her family with that kind of thing. there's a formality to her.
there's a sense of renewal that she has. she's not, she has good relationships with the capitol hill press corps but she isn't this sort of chummy folksy politician that really strikes reporters as like colorful and entertaining. i talk about this a little bit in the book. i do sort of right in the afterword and talk about my personal feelings and reflections about the reporting process. i just never felt like i really got inside her head in that way. i felt like i absorbed or very closely and i got to understand the way she works and operates, but because she is in someone who engages in public introspection, she is a fundamentally private person and i was not able to fully penetrate that.
>> well, i will say again, it's a great book and thank you all for being here. i know you're all wearing masks. appreciate the great social distancing -- [inaudible] >> corrected but also everyone by the book through pmp which is a national treasure, certainly a d.c. treasure and thank you for watching us, and i guess can i sign off? >> you can go right ahead. i will say before we close tonight that again we thank you all so much for being here in the audience and molly and marcus is a lovely conversation about a personal favorite political figure, and thank you so much. i do encourage the audience to buy the book from politics and prose. your patronage is what it's
allowing us to stay up and running right now. those book sales are really crucial, and also we are offering you the option tonight to donate to politics and prose. we are accepting donations and we really appreciate everyone who comes in. but definitely, definitely purchase "pelosi" by molly ball tonight. we have a lot of other great events coming up and down the pipeline and i encourage you to click on our logo above to check those out. but until then i hope we see again. stay well, stay well read, and take care, everybody. >> this point the senate armed services committee holds a hearing on civilian control of the military and whether to issue a for president elect biden's nominee for defense secretary. retired gen