Who’s Really Shredding Standards on Capitol Hill?

tags: Congress, political history, whistleblower

Joanne B. Freeman (@jbf1755), a professor of history and American studies at Yale, is the author of “The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War.”

Last week, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said a lot without speaking a word. At the close of President Trump’s State of the Union address, she calmly, deliberately and now famously tore her copy in two and tossed it down with a shrug, declaring her disdain for its contents with aplomb.

This simple gesture sent a strong message. Most speakers are expressionless during State of the Union addresses or they come close; Speaker John Boehner couldn’t quite mask his “micro-expressions” of frustration during President Barack Obama’s address in 2015.

Speaker Pelosi offered a cri de coeur in comparison, as she intended. The speech was “a manifesto of mistruths,” she said during a news conference two days later. “It was necessary to get the attention of the American people to say, ‘This is not true.’” And she succeeded, perhaps beyond her expectations. Violating congressional traditions to make a point is itself a longstanding tradition for good reason.

Republicans heard that message loud and clear, denouncing her incivility, accusing her of shredding “decades of tradition” and demanding her resignation. It was the “most classless act ever conducted in Congress,” Ian Miles Cheong, the managing editor of the conservative website Human Events, charged.


Read entire article at NY Times

comments powered by Disqus