Quote: “I accept this gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship.” Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House.
Figure of Speech: antithesis (an-TIH-the-sis), the not-this-but-that figure. From the Greek, meaning “opposite place.”
Congrats to Speaker Pelosi. It’s even a bigger deal than it seems: women still comprise just 18 percent of the house, but their proportion is growing rapidly in state legislatures. Figaro predicts that within a generation, politics will be considered women’s work. Which is fine with him.
In a predictably bipartisan inaugural (we almost said “maiden”) speech, Pelosi employed an antithesis, a figure of opposites that works best when the opposing parts have a similar sound (“partnership, not partisanship”). She got a little carried away, figuratively, when she piled a second antithesis on top of that first one: Democrats and Republicans can “disagree without being disagreeable,” she chanted.
Afterward, she couldn’t resist a little touchdown dance. “The Democrats are back!” crowed the oh-so-humble Speaker. Meanwhile, the rest of Washington was already sharpening knives. President Bush got into a tiff with grouchy ol’ Harry Reid, the disagreeable new Senate majority leader, over whether the Dems’ legislation might be “political.”
Figaro is shocked by the very suggestion.
Snappy Answer: “More work, less pork!” (Wait. That was supposed to rhyme.)