by Jonathan Singer, Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 08:48:49 AM EST
On Wednesday morning, January 21, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to talk about Barack Obama's inauguration, as well as the outlook for the 111th Congress.
The Speaker evinced a real understanding and vision for what needs to be done in the next two years. At the same time, she showed deference to and respect for President Obama, whom she was still clearly excited to have seen be sworn into office the day before, asking us to "let him lead," and to "make judgments at the end of a Congress, at the end of a term, but not on the day today."
During our conversation in her office in the Capitol, the Speaker expressed an amazement at what she called the "eloquence" of the crowd at the inauguration, while also making clear a determination to find out why a small, yet significant portion of those ticketed for the event were unfortunately unable to get in. We covered a wide range of issues, from the recovery package to healthcare to immigration to tax policy - which she indicated would be better approached holistically than in a piecemeal manner, perhaps indicating a desire for tax reform.
You can listen to the interview below, download it as an mp3, or read the rush transcript.
Jonathan Singer: How did you feel, both as the first inauguration of your speakership as well as just this historic moment in general?
Nancy Pelosi: We all knew it would be an emotional moment to see the first African-American sworn in as President of the United States. We all knew it would be great because of who he is and what a powerful intellect he has and [his] great vision for America.
It was pretty exciting, though, to see the crowd. He was eloquent, but the eloquence of that many people turning out in that low temperature and the attention that they paid... it was just sensational.
I loved the speech. It was really a document of vision and values for our country, commitment and courage to tell it the way it was. "These are our challenges."
Singer:"The era of responsibility" really stuck out to me. We can have times where we shirk our responsibilities, but this isn't that time.
Pelosi: It's a crisis. Shirking responsibility is a luxury we can rarely ever afford, but certainly not now.