When pundits look at the results of the 2020 presidential election, they may decide that Feb. 4 was the day the Democratic Party lost the high ground and eventually the election. Indeed, after the astoundingly tasteless antics of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the eve of what appeared to be the Senate’s rejection of her party’s attempt to remove the president, it now looks like the election is Mr. Trump’s to lose.
If perception is reality, then the endless video loops and memes of Pelosi tearing up her copy of the State of the Union address presents a perceived reality of herself and her party as dividers who have abandoned the idea of national unity in favor of mean-spirited gestures designed to appease mean-spirited fellow travelers.
Others can debate and explain why the president’s SOTU address was his best/his worst. Still others can talk on endlessly about what most political observers and, dare we say, many likely voters already knew, that the address was Trump’s first major speech of his presidential campaign. It laid out what he believes to be his administration’s major accomplishments in the areas of the economy, employment, international trade, foreign affairs, military preparedness, and the killing of terrorist killers.
Even as the words were leaving his lips, fingers were busy finding the lies within the rhetoric, refusing to acknowledge, as they gleefully caught each one, that political rhetoric is and always has been smoke and mirrors, misdirection, with some old-fashion mendacity thrown in for good measure. Big Daddy from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof would have felt right at home in the House chambers: “What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it, Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room? There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity.”
Nothing more powerful except maybe mean-spiritedness. Oh, there are those who say Pelosi ripping the speech was payback for Trump refusing to shake her hand. Except, Trump did not shake Pense’s hand. He may have had other things on his mind other than etiquette. Things like reading off a prompter without making mistakes or the events of the next day when those senators in attendance and those in Iowa would decide his political fate.
When Pelosi smugly tore up the speech, she was not just symbolically showing her disgust for the man in front of her and everything he said that night, she was, by her very act, showing her disrespect for each individual highlighted in the speech.
It was a mean-spirited rejection of the wife and mother who lost her husband to a roadside bomb in Iraq. It was a mean-spirited rejection of the army sergeant reunited with his wife and children after his fourth, yes fourth, deployment to the Middle East. It was a mean-spirited rejection of Charles McGee, one of the last surviving Tuskegee airmen, recently promoted to Brigadier General, and of his great-grandson sitting beside him who wants to join the US Space Force.
It was a mean-spirited rejection of the Pennsylvania fourth grader who will build on her love for art and music through expanding school choice programs.
It also was a mean-spirited rejection of Kayla Mueller, who died after her kidnapping by ISIS head thug Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And there, representing Kayla and the Mueller and Elledge families, were her parents Marsha and Carl. Marsha is from my hometown.
Thoughtless actions to gain political points only show a shallowness of character, and, to say it one more time, a mean-spiritedness at a time when the people of our country cannot afford more nasty, in-your-face hostility toward the people of our country. Trump critics say his speech did not go far enough to bring our country together. That may be true, but at least it didn’t rip it apart. Perception is reality, and the image is there for all the world to see.