Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
President George W. Bush (foreground) speaks to the press as he is joined by new Democratic U.S. House of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi Nov. 9, 2006, in the Oval Office of the White House.
President Bush welcomes to the White House the woman who will lead the Democrats in the House of Representatives next year. Mr. Bush and Rep. Nancy Pelosi have been political adversaries throughout his presidency; at times, the rhetoric has been lacerating.
But two days after Democrats made sweeping gains in Congress, there were smiles and handshakes.
That was a far cry from Monday, when President Bush delivered a cutting joke about Pelosi that was a staple in his midterm-campaign stump speech.
"They asked the lady who thinks she's going to be speaker — but she's not — about tax cuts; she said, 'We love tax cuts,'" the president said. "Well, given her record, she must be a secret admirer."
President Bush regularly portrayed the Democrats and their leader as being wrong on taxes, terrorism and national security. At one point, he said that if Democrats win, America loses.
Of course, Pelosi has shown she can dish it out as well. She has portrayed President Bush as dangerous, as being in denial, as an "emperor with no clothes."
In an interview on CBS's 60 Minutes tha aired last month, Lesley Stahl asked Pelosi about her calling the President "incompetent."
But after Thursday's lunch meeting, Pelosi said, "We both extended the hand of friendship, of partnership to solve the problems facing our country, the challenges that America's working families face."
And President Bush, in opening his remarks said he wanted "to congratulate congresswoman Pelosi for becoming the speaker of the House, and the first woman speaker of the House," the president said. "This is historic for our country. And as the father of young women, it is — I think it's important. I really do."
It remains to be seen how the White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress will collaborate on issues ranging from Iraq to the national economy. But for now, both sides have a chance to let the wounds of the election season heal before resuming their old conflicts in 2007.