GMA’s Sawyer: Tough, Determined Pelosi is a ‘Force to be Reckoned With’

When Diane Sawyer interviewed Nancy Pelosi on Friday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC anchor seemed more interested in subjects such as building up the new House Speaker’s reputation for toughness and talking about trash, then she did on quizzing Pelosi about Iraq. While Sawyer did ask about the conflict, she also pressed the San Francisco Democrat from the left, twice wondering if Pelosi would consider cutting off funds. More often, Sawyer characterized Pelosi in positive, almost glowing terms. She began, however, by asking whether toughness or determination would be a better description of the new Speaker:

Diane Sawyer: "For two centuries in America, the Speaker of the House looked like this. [Montage of former Speakers, all male obviously] So, how is it a 66-year-old mother of five, and grandmother, broke the mold? Like a freight train she's already moved six major pieces of legislation through the House. Everything from stem cells to minimum wage. And whatever side you're on, when this new Speaker moves, she moves fast. Nancy Pelosi says power is not handed to you. You have to know how to win it. When she walks into a room, she is quiet, polite. But her fellow politicians say she's galvanized steel with a smile. Now, 100 hours. 100 hours in. What's the word that you, that you would use for yourself in those first 100 hours? Tough? Determined? What's the word?"

Nancy Pelosi: "Accountable. Democrats came into power, we said we were ready to lead, prepared to govern and that we would make a difference. That we did what we promised we would do in the first 100 hours, to make our country safe, our economy fairer, and our country independent."

Sawyer: "As we sit here right now, 3,500 troops are moving in. That’s the first of the surge. It has begun. Are you going to move to cut off funding for troops going into Iraq as part of the surge?"

Pelosi: "Democrats will never cut off funding for our troops when they are in harm's way. But we will hold the president accountable. He has to answer for his war. He has dug a hole so deep he can't see the light on this. It is a tragedy, a historic blunder."

Sawyer: "Are you acquiescing in the surge? Since the pocketbook is the only other control mechanism?"

Pelosi: "The– The President knows that because the troops are in harms way that we won't cut off the resources that's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way."

Sawyer: "Are you saying that the President deliberately manipulated the timing? That he sent the troops in in order to avoid congressional action?"

Pelosi: "Well, I would certainly hope he didn’t manipulate the timing of sending the troops in. I think he could have told us about it sooner, and invited any comments we might have had, any constructive proposals we might have had. We found out about it as the troops were going in."

After the first segment, which aired at 7:03am, a second piece followed at 7:48. At this point, Sawyer reiterated her point about just how tough and fierce Nancy Pelosi can be. Attributes, strangely, that didn’t seem to be so positive when they were assigned to Newt Gingrich:

Sawyer: "As the sun comes up on the Capitol dome, the first female Speaker of the House is picking up her gavel. Now a personal conversation with Nancy Pelosi, starting with what happened the day she was sworn in. We saw in Congress something we ve never seen before. We saw children running around. Some of them, some of them, I believe rearranging your notes if I'm not wrong. On the right side of the screen, the little guy down next to the podium. He likes the gavel too. Did any of your grand kids say madame Speaker?"

Pelosi: "They still call me Mimi. But they tell other people that their Mimi is the Speaker. When we were going to mass and they heard a motorcycle escort and my grandson said, I want to do this when I grow up. And his mother said, ‘Well, Mimi is the Speaker. That’s why she has this.’ And he said, ‘No. I want to drive a motorcycle.’"

Sawyer: "But as we said, grandmother Mimi is a force to be reckoned with in Congress. Here's her reaction to the Republican Minority Leader complaining yesterday she’s ramrodding legislation through too fast."

Pelosi: "It's about our promise, not their process."

Sawyer: "She also fires back at an alpha Democrat, John Dingle of Michigan, who complained that her newly created committee on global warming duplicates his energy committee. And he said, ‘We need more committees like we need a fish needs feathers.’ There are already, what, five committees dealing with it."

Pelosi: "And they will all continue to deal with it. This is a new way, we’re democratizing Congress. "

Sawyer: "100 hours in. Do you think the fact that you’re female is--"

Pelosi: "I'll be very honest with you, I didn't realize how much thirst there was for a change, for a change to say that women can do any of these jobs. Interestingly, fathers of daughters have been so excited about the prospect for their daughters. Women waited, but not just waited, they worked all that time to get full equality in our country. And breaking this marble ceiling, I think makes the sky the limit for young girls, and, and women. They, they can do whatever they want. Because this marble ceiling is a pretty tough ceiling to break."

Finally, Sawyer closed the interview by encouraging the new House Speaker to get annoyed over an article critiquing Pelosi’s fashion choices:

Sawyer: "All right, I cannot let you go before– Here it is. Here it is. I wondered how long before it was before it was coming. Clothes. Somebody writes about clothes. Now, do you say, ‘Oh, give us a break?’ Does it just seem inevitable to you that somebody, if it is female is going to worry about clothes?"

Pelosi: "Clothes and hair."

Sawyer: "Clothes and hair."

Pelosi: "Clothes and hair. You know what? I didn’t have anytime to think about it. I really don’t. If that’s what draws people to pay attention to what’s happening in politics, that’s okay with me. Because important decisions are being made here that affect people’s lives and whatever draws them to it, makes the process more legitimate and wholesome. I do believe that women’s involvement in the political process, in the government is the single most important factor in making government more wholesome, more relevant to the lives of the American people and more ready for change."

So, Sawyer finds it demeaning when someone assumes that a woman Speaker would worry about fashion choices? Only two days ago, the ABC anchor interviewed all 16 female members of the Senate and asked them simplistic questions such as whether women running the world would result in the end of war. Apparently some stereotypes are acceptable.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org