Well, it happened again. Another Trump-era State of the Union address where the morning-after discourse is focused on the theatrics of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Last year, of course, Pelosi made a splash during the speech by clapping weird at Donald Trump in the kind of extremely memeable but ultimately meaningless way that says “I’ll pass your top policy priority for the year the day after introducing articles of impeachment against you, IDGAF.”
This time, Pelosi shoplifted the spotlight by responding to Trump’s handshake-refusal by tearing up her copy of his speech. That’s right, after a lie-filled speech where a president who is about to be acquitted in his impeachment trial by history’s most aggressively uncurious Republican senate gave the medal of freedom to a guy who has repeatedly defended slavery and suggested Michael J. Fox was faking his Parkinson’s diagnosis, people are talking about middle-school squabbling.
On the one hand, at least the media focus on Pelosi is taking up space that might otherwise be spent hailing Trump’s presidential showmanship. If that was her aim, well, you kind of have to hand it to her—preferably with an unusual, pointed handclap. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that Pelosi is just using this is another opportunity for Sassy Warrior self-mythology, something which SNL is reliably helpful in bolstering.
So, it’s either one of those two things. Or maybe some other options! That’s the beauty of the post-truth era, everybody sees what they want to see. It’s all The Dress, all the time: everybody looking at the same things with wildly different interpretations. Sometimes, those interpretations say a lot about the eye that’s beholding. In this case, the way people feel about Pelosi’s speech rip may reveal who they’re voting for in the primaries.
At the time of this writing, the top two trending hashtags on Twitter are #PelosiTantrum and #NancyTheRipper. Let’s explore those very real hashtags, along with some other made-up ones, as avatars for voting preference.
You are deeply offended. How dare Nancy do something so disrespectful to Americans? When she ripped up that speech it was like she ripped up the Constitution, or the deed to your house and gun, both of which she would confiscate if she could, because of socialism. You are also appalled by the lack of decorum, something you value deeply in your leaders, and the lack of control. Obviously, Nancy’s feelings were hurt, and she lost her temper, and you absolutely hate it when leaders lose their temper because of hurt feelings.
You’re voting for Trump.
You are friggin’ stoked. The reigning clapback-kween obliterated Mango Mussolini’s speech right in front of his Cheeto-colored face. Um, revolution much? You could practically see the self-tanning particles fly off his orange skin, as though Nasty Nancy did a Thanos-snap, which is ironic because tRump literally IS Thanos. This is the kind of thing that makes you sure we’re gonna beat him like a drum in November.
You’re voting for Joe Biden.
You are of two minds about this. It appears some things the president said in his speech might not have been quite true, per se. And it would sure be better to have a president who is truthful more often than not! But leaders shouldn’t just rip up a speech. They should meet the speech halfway, hear the speech out, gently rebuke the speech if need be, but reach across the aisle and work with the speech. A speech ripped in half can’t be put back together, and if we can’t put a speech back together, how are we gonna put a country back together?
You’re voting for Pete Buttigieg.
You are also of two minds about ripping up the speech. If ripping up things on TV had any real impact right now, you’d want the entire senate floor looking like wall-to-wall Sinead O’Connor on SNL. But it doesn’t! It’s just a distraction from the very real work that needs doing right now. You applaud the sentiment, and award points for chutzpah, but really, it’s the zero hour, people, focus up, eyes on the prize, clear eyes, full hearts can’t rip up speeches when ripping the president a new b-hole at the polls feels so much better.
You’re voting for Elizabeth Warren.
You see Nancy Pelosi’s name trend and think only of how deeply she is part of the Establishment, and therefore must go. But what are we even talking about? Get out of here with this.
You’re voting for Bernie Sanders.