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Pelosi Hits Back

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Rolling Stone

It may not have the cachet of the Oval Office, but there is no more commanding view in Washington than the one enjoyed by the speaker of the House. The picture windows in Nancy Pelosi's office frame the National Mall, where, only three weeks earlier, 2 million Americans gathered to celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration. In the distance, centered in the windows, rises the pinnacle of the Washington Monument.

Unfortunately, rescuing the nation's economy won't include sprucing up the Mall — a $200 million project to renovate America's most visited national park was stripped from Obama's economic stimulus bill to prevent Republicans from derailing the recovery package. While such efforts weakened the measure, they didn't keep it from moving forward. On the morning in February when Rolling Stone sat down with Pelosi in her office, the Senate was conducting the roll-call vote on its version of the $800 billion bill.

In person, Pelosi is warmer than the sharp-edged patrician familiar from the nightly news. Despite the pending vote, she seems relaxed in a gray pinstriped suit accented with a necklace of gray and white pearls the size of jawbreakers. The legislation she has steered through the House during Obama's first few weeks in office — including measures to revive the economy, extend government health insurance to 4 million children and help America's working women secure equal pay — may stand as an unparalleled record of accomplishment in the opening days of a new administration.

For the moment, Pelosi is cloaking her instincts as an experienced street fighter in the soothing tones of bipartisanship. Though her eyes flash green when she puts a sharp point on an argument, she seems reticent to take shots at the House Republicans who voted en masse against the recovery package. For the first time since she rose to the speakership two years ago, Pelosi can at last brush aside the GOP's obstructionism and get on with the work of undoing the damage done by eight years of Republican misrule.

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                                               Look at the flowers

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