As usual, February kicked off with the State of the Union Address by the current president, Trump in this case, to a joint meeting of both chambers of Congress. The Address is usually a call to action for members of Congress and the American people or the expression of values of a certain President. It is highly anticipated and watched globally.
This year’s address in particular grabbed the attention of the world, but not in the same way addresses of the past did. The speech was marked by childishness and chilly snobbery between President Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, such as when the President refused to shake Madam Speaker’s hand.
This gesture is normally a customary show of respect and acknowledgment of a common goal, and it was followed by Speaker Pelosi tearing her copy of the President’s address in half, which went viral soon after.
The nation expects this behavior from the President at this point. He has been nothing but exasperatingly vocal about his explicit, unprofessional disgust for Speaker Pelosi in the past. Trump’s refusal to shake Madame Speaker’s hand is yet another link in the chain in his career of unprofessionalism and lack of principality. However, the response of Speaker Pelosi was certainly a shock and saddened me to my core.
As an ardent admirer and supporter of Speaker Pelosi for her grace under pressure and potent eloquence in the face of the President’s past foolishness, the last thing I expected from her was disrespect in response to the President’s disrespect. The address was certainly not above criticism, but the impulsivity of tearing her copy was not an appropriate way to respond. When a toddler pitches a tantrum, the worst and most provoking way to handle the situation is to throw one in return. The speaker later referred to the Address as a “manifesto of mistruths” in an interview following the event; an accurate description that would have sufficed for a more appropriate response to the President’s actions.
If nothing else, the actions of the two people holding the distinguished offices of Speaker of the House and President were indicative of the extreme polarization of the bipartisan leadership. This doesn’t bode well leading up to the much-anticipated election this November.