The Corner

The Scene at the Capitol

Twenty minutes after midnight, the gavel hit and the House adjourned. Democrats, quietly, began to stream out of the chamber. I hung by the door, back against a column, taking it all in. The words on every Democrat’s lips: “Good luck.” Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, facing a tough reelection battle in Ohio, was the recipient of numerous hugs, cheek kisses, and well wishes from her colleagues. So was Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, facing the same in Pennsylvania. The conversations, however brief, sounded heavy, almost elegiac. For a few minutes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mingled a foot away, her fire-engine red suit at the center of a swirl of Democrats hustling into the night. Pelosi smiled her usual grin — immobile and broad — and wished fellow Democrats the best. Some stopped to chat, but many just rushed past, uninterested in small talk. Rep. Tom Perriello, a vulnerable freshman Democrat from Virginia, was one who skipped by, but Pelosi called him back, inviting him to join her circle of allies by the elevator. Their talk was short: He tried to sound upbeat about his chances. Pelosi, of course, smiled.

After a couple minutes, Perriello, along with other nervous Democrats, left Pelosi’s side and stepped out onto the Capitol steps, descending down under the shadow of the dome. As they ducked into the black of night, rain poured onto their jackets and ties, and the wind whistled around the Hill. No word on whether this storm will cease.


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