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Friday, November 17, 2006

Break a Leg

Hold the cheers.
Hit the lights.


It appears a fungal pall has settled on the smooth marble walls and old leather chairs of the showpiece of political drama, the US Capitol. Like an aged theatre welcoming yet another revival of Annie, Get Your Gun, the building where our legislators do the people's business is filled with a new company of players who walk the stage in dusty costumes and continue to perform lines from anachronistic scripts that hallow old ideas of leadership.

This, however, is not the show the voters want to see produced. We want something fresh, informed by the great leaders of the past, but stepping outside that stale paradigm.

No more rehearsing
Or nursing a part.

Now the star of the show sits in her dressing room, a closed smile staring back at her from the lit make-up mirror. She knows the person she sees is accountable for the success of the run, and its failures. The worst thing she can do is not play to the audience, yet during the last dress rehearsal, she did just that. She went with a preconceived notion of leadership by following her own agenda, thinking the rest of the company would follow along to make her look good.

But the lead role in this play is not delivered through soliloquy. It is one of dialogue and requires listening, focusing and reacting, and only after she shows the concern one actor in a scene must have for another can she begin to act, and to lead.

A knock on the door breaks her from her intense stare. "Five minutes, Ms. Pelosi," says the anxious voice of an enthralled young assistant. Nancy gets up from her chair, and after dabbing her make-up with her finger and pursing her lips, turns off the lights on the mirror and leaves the dressing room.

Oh what heights we'll hit!

As the door closes behind her, she knows the mirror will be waiting for her to return, for when the act is over, she will face herself once again. Whether lauded by flowers or faced with an abrupt end of run, she will know that she is accountable, and maybe, just maybe, she will have brightened the stage of this dingy, old, white-domed theatre so that more and more people will clamour for following through on her farsighted commitments, and folks at water coolers and coffee shops will be talking about the greatest cast on the greatest stage doing the greatest work for our country and the world.

So Nancy, break a leg. We're counting on you.

On with the show!
This is it!

-PBG
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