Cheney and Pelosi Do the Two-Party Two-Step

By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fellow Americans, the state of our union is wobbly.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Cheney, sitting in the customary place behind President Bush as he addressed the nation from the House chamber last night, resembled nothing so much as a seesaw.

"First we must balance the federal budget," Bush said.

Pelosi shot to her feet, followed slowly by Cheney.

"We can do so without raising taxes," Bush continued.

Cheney leapt up. Pelosi started to stand, then reconsidered and sat down.

Bush called for saving "up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017."

Pelosi stood to applaud. Cheney remained resolutely planted.

The president demanded a "prompt up-or-down vote" for his judicial nominees.

Cheney rose, grinning and applauding. Pelosi sat silently.

Bush knew he was heading into hostile territory last night: a Congress controlled by Democrats for the first time in a dozen years. With a Watergate-worthy approval rating of 33 percent, Bush couldn't count on faithful support even from fellow Republicans, who in recent days have branded his Iraq policy "dangerously irresponsible." And there, over his right shoulder and holding a large wooden gavel, loomed Pelosi, who has described Bush as "incompetent" and "dangerous."

"He'll be standing in front of a woman who's holding a hammer," Fox News host Steve Doocy warned White House press secretary Tony Snow yesterday morning.

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