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Waxman Touts Book to Adoring Crowd

Although the event was publicized as a talk partly based on the relationship Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has with his Jewish faith and how that plays into his role in the House, a talk last night at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue seemed to turn into something more closely resembling the Henry Waxman Fan Club.In an effort to promote his book, “The Waxman Report: How Congress Really Works,— Waxman spoke to nearly 400 people crowding themselves into pews at the synagogue. Audience members, clutching their copies of the book, which was sold on site by Politics & Prose, laughed, cheered and clapped their way through about 50 minutes of jokes and anecdotes from the Congressman. Waxman loosely followed the format of his book and discussed his battle against the tobacco industry, his support for the Clean Air Act and his fight for the rights of gay men with HIV/AIDS. He seemed to enjoy the ability to speak casually, and the audience eagerly absorbed his stories reliving past battles and victories. Some avid listeners were even taking notes. Throughout the talk, Waxman had moments where he seemed to lose his inhibition, taking shots at Members of Congress and at the Senate as a whole. At one point he mentioned having the “unfortunate circumstance— of having to deal with another Congressman who is “just mean-spirited.— He also cracked jokes and made references to the dishonesty of the Senate. “Most of what you read about Congress are scandals in the Senate and sometimes in the House,— Waxman said with a mischievous smile, drawing laughter from the crowd.Toward the end of the night, listeners lined up at two microphones in the aisles, awaiting their chance to address the Congressman. A representative of Politics & Prose , who had been monitoring a strict schedule throughout the evening. kept the discourse short. Eventually all questions were asked, although not many merited a lengthy answer from the Congressman. After the lecture came to a close, lines of people formed, snaking their way up stairwells and through the aisles of the main congregation. Waxman was still in the building, and these devoted fans weren’t leaving without getting their copies signed by the author.

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