AUDIE CORNISH, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
It's Friday and it's New Year's Eve, so before we focus on the year ahead with out political contributors, we're going to take one last listen to the year in politics.
The year began with a tea party that never seemed to end.
Senator SCOTT BROWN (Republican, Massachusetts): They thought that they owned your vote. They thought that they couldn't lose. But tonight, you and you, and you and you, and you...
(Soundbite of cheering)
Sen. BROWN: ...you all set them straight.
Senator-elect RAND PAUL (Republican, Kentucky): Tonight, there's a tea party tidal wave and we're sending a message to them.
CORNISH: But Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and Kentucky Senator-elect Rand Paul were not the only Republicans lifted by that wave of resentment against Washington. John Boehner was riding it too.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio; House Minority Leader): Listen, I hold these values dear because I've lived them. I've spent my whole life chasing the American dream.
CORNISH: While Congressman Boehner of Ohio wept as he became the presumptive speaker of the House, President Obama took from that very same election a dry-eyed lesson in practical politics.
President BARACK OBAMA: I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night.
CORNISH: The shellac was hardly dry when, through a combination of compromise and arm-twisting, the president finished the year with new polish on his agenda.
There was the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," and this...
President OBAMA: I am glad the Democrats and the Republicans came together to approve my top national security priority for this session of Congress: the New START treaty. This is the most significant arms control agreement in nearly two decades.
CORNISH: As for the Democratic leadership in Congress, there was a certain resilience. Nancy Pelosi loses the speaker's chair in 2011, but she surprised people by staying on to lead the new minority.
Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California; Speaker of the House): I'm running to put together the strongest plan to work with the Republicans to solve problems. The biggest problem is unemployment. I hope we can work together to create jobs.
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