Mr. Boehner wept, of course. He has a bit of a track record on needing tissues in public.
Okay, so he wept when Ms. Pelosi introduced his wife and family.
Even so, it would have been understandable, this time, if he had 'cried a river'.
Mr. Boehner has some pretty big pumps to fill.
When Ms. Pelosi took the gavel as the first woman to be Speaker of the House, she faced a House so divided along party lines that she couldn’t count on a single Republican vote for legislation–which means that she had to wrangle fellow Democrats to demonstrate a discipline and unity they have not been famous for.
That wrangling resulted in a focus and a unity that produced an impressive list of accomplishments:
Health-care reform.Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute said, “She ranks with the most consequential speakers, certainly in the last 75 years.”
A $787 billion stimulus.
The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
A minimum wage increase.
Extending health coverage to 11 million children.
The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
With the Republicans now back in charge of the House, Ms. Pelosi has her new job (which was also her old job) — as House Democratic leader — cut out for her. Hard-won gains such as health reform are being threatened with repeal.
Ms. Pelosi today decried such efforts, saying it would “do very serious violence to the national debt and deficit.” Let alone to the health and wallets of American families.
She has been shamelessly attacked by those on the Right in a despicable display of sexism, the likes of which we haven't seen since Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic Nomination as President of the United States.
She has been demonized for her looks, her clothes, her values - you name it, she's been roundly criticized for it, leading some otherwise brilliant allies to question her effectiveness.
At the beginning of her term, the first lashings she received were when she stated that the CIA had misled Congress. For months she was the target of every single Republican who came near a microphone. Remember the phony, sanctimonious outrage of John Boehner? I do.
And then we learned that she was right. Eventually, we discovered that the C.I.A. DID mislead Congress by order of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and President Bush signed off on it. Everybody, it seemed, lied to Congress.
American women have spoken often and for decades about the difficulty of overcoming sexism in our political system. There is no doubt in my mind that there was a witch-hunt on Capital Hill and Nancy Pelosi's was its clear target. The outrage that flared up around her was hot enough to light the kindling under the sexist stake she had been tied to.
The only thing that rivaled the attacks on Madam Speaker of the House were the attacks on the President himself.
To the "Party of No", if you are a strong, intelligent, independent, focused woman, you are a "Femi-Nazi". If you are a woman who is a mouthpiece for patriarchy, you are a "Mama Grizzly".
Yet, through it all, Ms. Pelosi remained gracious as well as focused, doing everything her President asked her to do - and accomplishing the majority of the items on her lengthy "to do" list.
Mr. Boehner may have gotten the gavel today, but Ms. Pelosi’s still got the platform, the guts and the smarts to keep the accomplishments of her tenure from being dismantled. She also has the admiration of many of her fellow residents of the House, on both sides of the aisle.
Knowing how she stood up to withering attacks and seemingly insurmountable political odds, I'm putting solid money on the fact that the Republican majority is not going to easily dismiss her as a force that needs to be continually reckoned with and taken as seriously as a heart attack.
For my money, she's the best hope we've got to 'stay the course' before the 2012 elections, which will, ultimately, win another four years of a Democratic presidency.
I'm praying that we can get The Dream Act passed. DADT feels like an incomplete victory without it.
And, to all you boys in the House - just a few words of advice from Faith Whittlesey, who famously said -