Outgoing Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi took to the dais Wednesday and passed the gavel to Republican Speaker John Boehner. The 112th Congress begins. Riveted twitterati guessed at the minute the emotional new Speaker would weep. He did seem to mist up briefly during Pelosi’s introduction. Then he did something noble and brave: He kissed and hugged the former Speaker, like a man unaware that at least one Republican politician in this country lost an election in part because digital evidence betrayed the fact that he once hugged President Obama. No kissing even! Maybe a new era truly has begun.
It says something about the nature of politics over the last few years that this video of Pelosi and Boehner passing the gavel does seem remarkable. We did it and no one was killed or injured. Pelosi even seemed upbeat about the fact that, at that moment, our democracy functioned smoothly– and to the sound of appreciative lighthearted laughter.
“Recognizing our roles under the Constitution, united in our love of our country, we now engage in a strong symbol of American democracy: the peaceful and respectful exchange of power. I now pass this gavel… and the sacred trust that goes with it to the new speaker. God bless you Speaker Boehner.”
Then came the puckered lips and then the lean in and then the kiss and hug.
The new speaker outlined the work ahead for House lawmakers. He talked about unemployment, rising health care costs, expanding deficits.
“No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual and today we begin to carry out their instructions.”