What followed was an utter disgrace. First, Pelosi dropped the traditional greeting before the start of the address, “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.” Instead, she simply announced, “Members of Congress, the president of the United States.” It was extremely petty and profoundly inappropriate. Putting aside the fact that this is not her tradition, but that of the House, it is no excuse to note that the president was impeached.
Such an indignity was not imposed on President Clinton during his own impeachment proceeding, and anyone respecting due process would note that Trump has been accused, not convicted, at this point in the constitutional process. Pelosi proceeded to repeatedly shake her head, mouth words to others, and visibly disagree with the address. It was like some distempered distracting performance art behind the president.
Pelosi, like her predecessors, is supposed to remain stone faced during the address even if the president leaves her personally enraged. Indeed, House speakers have been the authority who kept other members in silent deference and respect, if not to the president, then to the office. However, Pelosi appeared to goad the mob, like a high schooler making mad little faces behind the school principal at an assembly. It worked as members protested and interrupted Trump. Pelosi became another Democratic leader, little more than a twitching embodiment of this age of rage.
What a nasty woman, if you’ll allow me to borrow a famous phrase.