There's no arguing that Nancy Pelosi's dramatic tearing of President Trump's State of the Union speech grabbed attention, headlines, and TV time. But that's just about where the agreement ends: The ripping is sparking divisive opinions. We cover a few of those:
- Trump himself: Talking Points Memo notes the president went on a Twitter spree, retweeting many of those who were slamming Pelosi, including one tweet noting that #PelosiTantrum was trending and another from someone in the UK calling Pelosi "a disgrace" and pointing out that in the UK, the speaker "is supposed to be impartial and neutral." Among his nearly two dozen retweets was a retweet of this White House post saying Pelosi's "legacy" will be her ripping up of all the touching moments from Trump's speech, including "one of our last surviving Tuskegee Airmen" and "a service member's reunion with his family."
- And his VP: Per Fox News, immediately after Trump finished his SOTU address, Mike Pence called the Pelosi moment "a new low." On Fox & Friends Wednesday morning, he noted, "The contrast here was a president who spent an hour-and-a-half making the speech about America and Nancy Pelosi in the final moments tried to make it about her."
- Maybe Pence has a point: CNN notes that when Trump walked in to the room, he appeared to ignore Pelosi's hand, which she had reached out to shake his. Some tweets, like this one, wondered if that's what sparked the tearing: "Seems like Pelosi may have been trying to replace Meme 1 -- Trump ignoring her outstretched hand -- with Meme 2 -- her ripping up his #SOTU over his shoulder as he was still on the dais." Even Fox's Steve Doocy said, "She gave us something to talk about. She knew exactly what she was doing." Ultimately, CNN declares Pelosi's move as "effective" at controlling the news cycle so that she got just as much, if not more, coverage than the speech itself. (Even Trump tweeted more about her move than his own speech.)
- "What was she thinking?" But the New York Post editorial board agreed with Trump and Pence, writing that the president hit a "grand slam" with his speech while Pelosi just looked "sad." "What, other than channeling the alienation of the Democratic base from the great American center, was she thinking?"
- "Unbecoming": So did Nikki Haley; the former US ambassador to the UN tweeted, "Disappointed to see @SpeakerPelosi rip up the speech that mentioned lives we’ve lost and heroes we celebrated at the SOTU. No matter how you feel or what you disagree with, remember others are watching. This was unbecoming of someone at her level in office."
- "Unfit for office": In a statement, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney said Pelosi "had a tantrum, disgraced herself, and dishonored the House. She is an embarrassment and unfit for office."
- Sums up the year: At the Washington Post, Mike DeBonis remembers Pelosi at last year's SOTU, months after Democrats had retaken the House, "coyly smiling [and] clapping sideways at Trump, as if stifling a snicker." Contrast that with the image of her ripping up the speech this year: Trump is about to be acquitted at his impeachment trial, his approval rating is at a record high, the first voter results from the Democrats' 2020 campaign still haven't been fully reported. The speech tearing image "encapsulated a tumultuous year in the relationship between the speaker and the president."
How did Pelosi respond to the events of the evening? She drew attention back to her ignored hand by tweeting
a picture of it Tuesday night along with the caption: "Democrats will never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done #ForThePeople. We will work to find common ground where we can, but will stand our ground where we cannot." As for why she ripped up the speech, she told reporters "it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative," and later issued a statement referring to "the manifesto of mistruths presented in page after page of the address." (Read more State of the Union