AUTHOR: The Washington Post's Philip Kennicott

SUBJECT: The gavels "wielded during the drama of Sunday's [health care] marathon"

IN PARTICULAR: The massive gavel Pelosi carried

WORDS NEEDED TO UNPACK THIS POTENT SYMBOLISM: 1112

DIG AT RIGHT-WINGERS SIMULTANEOUSLY EXPOSING OVERATTENTION TO THE COLOR WHEEL: "Right-wing blogs frequently use [the Pelosi] image, often without explanation, as if it is manifestly obvious that the world is upside down if a woman from San Francisco in a tailored cabernet-colored suit is brandishing the implement. "

GOOD TO KNOW: "Pelosi isn't the first to opt for the symbolism of an oversize gavel, and she didn't invent the masculine overtones it seems to carry."

BECAUSE THE WRITER WASN'T SURE WE ABSORBED THAT WHOLE 'MASCULINE OVERTONES' BIT: "Pelosi's very public walk with a large, almost clown-size wooden mallet was red meat to her political foes."

GOOD QUESTION: "But what about its power as political imagery?"

WAIT, THERE'S MORE, AND IT INVOLVES FREEMASONS: "It also seems a strange emblem for the sausagemaking of the legislative process, if one considers its Masonic symbolism."

HOW THE GAVEL ACTUALLY SYMBOLIZES THE LEGISLATION'S WORTH:
The gavel symbolizes not just the power to shepherd the legislation, it implies the legislation is well crafted, that the House is building on a solid, considered foundation. It thus lends gravitas to a process that seemed, in the event, a suspenseful, bewildering and sometimes maddening display of improvisation and electoral scrambling.
NOW HE'S LOST JUST ABOUT EVERYONE: "The gavel moves the republic from talk to action, and ideally, to consensus and progress."

AND JUST TO KEEP YOU GUESSING, A DEEP CONCLUSION ... WITH LATIN:
The drama was fueled in part by the realization, especially intense among conservatives, that large entitlement programs, once passed, are rarely diminished or repealed ... Which raises yet another of the gavel's meanings. This is the auctioneer's tool, too. And if there was a mix of elation and fury Sunday night on the Hill, there was also a profound sense of unease even among many who supported the bill. The gavel, when it comes down on a big sale, isn't just screaming "sold," it's also saying caveat emptor.