Nancy Pelosi is delivering her first address as the speaker of the House of Representatives, and she's using the occasion to lay the problem of Iraq at the president's door.
After vowing to work in a "partnership" with Republicans, after honoring the soldiers in the field and the new members of Congress, after paying tribute to Gerald R. Ford and talking of her own life story, after taking note that her election represents a "historic moment" for women in America, Pelosi said that November's election results show that the people want their country to change. And, she said, "nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a change in direction than in the war in Iraq."
But as soon as she said those words, Pelosi made it clear that the war is, first and foremost, George W. Bush's problem. Noting that Bush will likely address the nation next week on a new "way forward" in Iraq, Pelosi said: "It is the responsibility of the president to articulate a new plan for Iraq that makes it clear to the Iraqis that they must defend their own streets and their own security ... a plan that promotes stability in the region ... and a plan that allows us to responsibly redeploy our troops."
Democrats in the chamber rose in sustained applause. For all of the talk about a new day in Washington, Republican members mostly sat on their hands.