Sandra Fluke, whom feminists had touted as the voice of a new generation, got the silent treatment from a bored and lackadaisical audience of college students during a 45-minute speech at Northwestern University on Monday night.
Fluke reportedly fumbled awkwardly as the young adults ignored her verbal cues for their participation.
“I have to tell you that here in Illinois, the number one point on the agenda is – ” she said, expecting a rousing reply. In time, she whispered her own answer, “Gay marriage.”
“I can tell you’re passionate by your response,” she joked after deafening silence.
Fluke told the crowd they were part of a new, “pro-equality coalition” that powered Barack Obama to re-election and would keep America moving leftward, to their manifest indifference.
Joseph Diebold, web editor of the student newspaper The Daily Northwestern, described the crowd as “sleepy.”
Seemingly acknowledging the unpopularity of her robust, socially liberal agenda, the feminist activist said the president's window of opportunity is closing.
“The thing about it is, we don’t have that much time,” she said. “When the electorate puts progressives into office, you get a certain amount of time to really deliver on what you promised before everybody decides to go back to the, ‘This isn’t working for me. I’m going to switch strategies again.’”
The inaction calls into question either how passionate students are to redefine marriage, or how engaging Fluke is as a speaker.
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Her hosts appreciated her effort. “I thought that her message was great,” said Adam Roth, president of Northwestern University Campus Democrats, which invited Fluke to campus. He noted since 2012, both Obama and Fluke are “focused much more on social issues.”
The rhetorical dud was not the first time Fluke flopped as a speaker. At a campaign stop in Reno last October, at the height of the campaign season, she drew 10 people as an Obama surrogate.
After giving a prime time speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Fluke has hit the campus speaking circuit, promoting the HHS mandate and causes such as letting transgender soldiers join the military.
Fluke said last May she had been urged to run for office and would entertain the possibility.
“We need more Debbie Wasserman Schultzes,” she said.
But first she has to keep an audience awake.