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Nancy Pelosi: 'Most powerful woman?'

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Finally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late last night in her closing argument for passage of the healthcare bill, being a woman will no longer be considered a preexisting medical condition. She was speaking of a healthcare bill which President Barack Obama, who pursued it for year, has called “a Patients’ Bill of Rights on steroids.”

But, in the aftermath of the House’s passage of a bill that has eluded Democratic leaders for decades, suddenly the criticism that the California Democrat has fielded for months over the handling of a measure that should have been easier for a comfortable majority to control in Congress has turned to hyperbolic praise for her power.

The most powerful woman in American history, The Economist is gushing. The most powerful House speaker in a century, a Brown University professor has suggested.

“That sounds good,” the first female speaker of the House tells the female anchor of ABC News’ evening news, Diane Sawyer, in a report airing tonight. “I don’t take it personally,” Pelosi says, “except I take it as a compliment for all women.

“My sisters here in the Congress, this was a big issue for us,” she says of fellow “care-givers” who had a lot invested in healthcare reform. “I certainly wanted to demonstate that we could get a job done that has eluded others for a century.”

In the World News inerview with Pelosi , passage of the healthcare legislation that Obama plans to sign tomorrow is on par with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

At the same time, Pelosi downplays the suggestion of a fellow congresswoman who suggests that it was Pelosi who put the “steel” in Obama’s spine after the Senate lost the supermajority that had enabled it to pass the healthcare bill now becoming law — pushing ahead with the Senate-passed bill and seeking a separate reconcilation of the two chambers came out of a Pelosi playbook that rejected any scaled-down compromise on healthcare in the aftermath of the Massachusetts election of a Republican senator.

“That’s ridiculous,” Pelosi says of the spinal steel-conveying powers attributed to her, in the interview with Sawyer airing tonight. “Many presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have tried to pass healthcare reform for Americans. And many speakers of the House have tried to do it, as well,” she says. “And last night, we had that level of success.”

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