Pelosi opts out of dinner with Obama, prefers event honoring Billy Joel
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opted out of a dinner hosted by President Obama with other lawmakers to discuss his amnesty plan and decided to attend a gala honoring singer/songwriter Billy Joel.
The House minority leader was eyed among the crowd gathered at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington to celebrate the “Piano Man” singer receiving the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize.
John Mellencamp, Boyz II Men, Tony Bennett, Josh Groban, LeAnn Rimes, Natalie Maines, and Gavin DeGraw were all poised to perform at the glitzy affair, being filmed for a PBS special airing next year.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced last week that Pelosi would be among the presenters, and her office had made it clear a prior commitment would keep her from the White House.
Obama will dine with 18 members of Congress on Wednesday night to discuss details of his actions, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest. An aide had earlier announced Pelosi wouldn’t be at the dinner, but said she had been briefed on Obama’s plan by Cecilia Munoz, the director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House.
"Leader Pelosi has a busy schedule this evening with five events including a longstanding commitment with constituents in town from San Francisco," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in an email to The Hill.
In addition to Pelosi, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Republican Reps. Candice Miller (Mich.) and Gregg Harper (Miss.), and Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington were slated to present the Gershwin Prize to Joel.
I'm sure those other lawmakers who attended the White House dinner also had other commitments that they broke in order to sit down with the president, so Pelosi's excuse is bogus. Maybe Pelosi is a huge Billy Joel fan. But it's possible that Pelosi and other congressional Democrats are trying to distance themselves from the president – especially when it hits the fan following the amnesty announcement. The firestorm that will erupt could very well consume the Democratic Party, and a lot of Democrats don't want to be singed by their proximity to Obama.