Scenes from the new beginning

Clinton has an earful for Cheney; Pelosi proves her motherly cred.

By Tim Grieve
Published January 4, 2007 9:01PM (EST)

Day 1 of the Democratic Congress is coming to a close. Having spent the day in front of the television -- we'll be at the U.S. Capitol next week, when the real work begins -- we can report in now on some of the highs and lows of the new beginning.

A conversation we wish we had heard: As Hillary Clinton's family posed for a swearing-in photo opportunity with Dick Cheney, her husband spent a long moment or two whispering in the ear of the vice president, who didn't seem to say much in return. Wolf Blitzer didn't offer us any insights into what was said, but he did take note of the fact that Chelsea Clinton was in attendance. "She's clearly grown up now," he said, "as our children normally do in these kinds of circumstances."

A sight we're sorry we missed: North Carolina Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry insisting, "I'm not whining," as he called on Democrats to treat Republicans better than Republicans treated Democrats when they were in the minority.

A sight we're already tired of seeing: We know that Nancy Pelosi is a grandmother and, as CNN's Andrea Koppel reported, "the highest-ranking female woman ever to hold political office." But does she really have to keep proving her motherly cred by saying things like, "We're here for the children"?

A sight we wish we could see: Sen. Tim Johnson on the Senate floor. The South Dakota Democrat remains hospitalized after brain surgery in December, and his doctor said this week that he has a long recovery ahead of him. Johnson's staff members say they're pressing forward with the work he wants them to be doing, but it's pretty clear that they're doing what they're doing based on what he told them before he suffered a brain hemorrhage.

"We had a staff meeting prior to Tim falling ill," Johnson spokeswoman Julianne Fisher tells the Argus Leader. "It dealt with the outlook (for 2007). We have a general sense of where Tim wanted to take things."

Fox News crawl we should have expected: "Are Dems Botching It With Ego-Driven Power Trip?"

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Nancy Pelosi D-calif. Tim Johnson