Everyone realized it was a symbolic vote. House Republicans, whose feelings were apparently hurt when Senate Democrats rejected their plan to approve a constitutional amendment through extortion, brought their own version of Harry Reid’s debt-reduction plan to the floor, just so they could vote against it. This was meaningless theater, even by congressional standards, apparently intended to make the GOP feel better about itself.

But the debate was fairly intense on the House floor anyway. The decorum and niceties that are generally common during congressional debates were forgotten, with many speakers finding themselves booed and derided by their rivals on the other side of the aisle.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stood out, however, for showing the kind of spirit that inspires confidence in her leadership.

YouTube video

If you can’t watch clips online, Pelosi told her colleagues, “It’s time to end this theater of the absurd. It’s time for us to get real. It’s time for us to get real and listen to the wisdom of the American people. They have said to us that they support, in overwhelming numbers, a bipartisan, balanced approach, in overwhelming numbers that we should all pay our fair share. And they all agree that we should get this over with so we can get back to work putting the American people back to work by creating jobs.”

Then she turned her attention to the developments in the chamber from the last several days. “The Speaker chose, when he didn’t have the votes, instead of to reach out in a bipartisan way to see how we could work together, he chose to go to the dark side,” Pelosi said, drawing sharp boos from the House GOP. She immediately added, “Let me repeat. And I repeat, he chose to go to the dark side by putting forth a bill that he himself told his members would sink in the Senate — and I add, lead to default, lead to default. We cannot default. We are the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world. We are the United States of America.”

Why did I like this so much? It’s not just the message, which happens to accurate. It’s also because Pelosi said something provocative, drew the disdain of her rivals, and said it again.

It was almost as if Pelosi were saying, “Oh, you didn’t like that one? Then let me repeat it for you.”

Update: I neglected to mention a point of context. Pelosi’s remarks came in defense of Reid’s plan to resolve the Republican debt-ceiling crisis. In other words, Pelosi was giving a speech in support of a conservative plan that cuts spending and doesn’t raise taxes, but was still booed by the GOP.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.