No one has a perfect attitude all the time – least of all me – but I guess I used to operate under the assumption that people holding the top offices in the land would be able to pretend to be adults while on national TV. Obviously, I’m free of that notion now. The last few years certainly did a great job of killing that assumption, and this past week it felt like Dr. McCoy just beamed in, found the body wearing a red shirt and said, “It’s dead, Jim.”
I know Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was having a bad week after Iowa and ahead of a more or less predetermined result in the impeachment trial. I can even take a pretty good guess about how she feels personally about President Donald Trump. But her conduct before, during and after the State of the Union was uncomfortable to watch. It’s a rare moment when someone makes Trump look like the adult in the room, but Pelosi dramatically tearing up the printed copy of his State of the Union address did just that.
I could care less about the Democrats who walked out during the speech or the ones who skipped it entirely. I wouldn’t want to sit in a stuffy auditorium for an hour and a half with constant applause going off either, it sounds like a good recipe for a headache. And let’s be real, the State of the Union is basically a constitutionally-required campaign speech for a first-term president.
But in the seat of Speaker, Pelosi is supposed to embody a larger demographic than just her own party. There are Republicans, Democrats – heck even one independent – and it’s her job to represent the whole group fairly, especially during an event like the State of the Union.
Pelosi sent an immature and partisan message by tearing up the speech, one that will only hurt the optics for the House of Representatives in the future.
And before it comes up, yes, obviously Trump is well-practiced in the art of acting less-than-statesmanly. His conduct (on Twitter especially) is probably my biggest bone of contention with him, but just because he gets away with it doesn’t mean his opponents get the green light to act the same.
It’s this sort of thing that makes me glad I get to cover local politics, where disagreements abound, but rarely do petty squabbles and ego conflicts rear their heads.
Typically we see our local representatives or aldermen working together for the good of their constituents, trying to accomplish projects that will impact the daily lives of local residents.
I’ve actually seen it happen quite a bit, where an alderman will personally feel strongly about something, but vote differently, usually saying, “this is what my constituents want.” I like that, because it shows they remember who they are there to serve. Not themselves, not a political party, but the people.
It’s a strong lesson, one I wish politicians at the highest levels would learn.