Both Democrats and Republicans accused each other of bad behavior at this week’s State of the Union Address. One side was worse.
By the time Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address ended, both sides argued the other displayed poor taste.
The first perceived wrong came when President Donald Trump seemed to ignore House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s outstretched hand. In the past, the president and speaker would shake hands before the speech. This time, however, Trump handed Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence copies of his address. As Trump turned toward the lectern, Pelosi reached to shake his hand. Trump went on as if nothing happened.
At the end of the one-hour and 18-minute speech, Pelosi ripped her copies of the speech while Trump stood in front of her taking in the applause. She tore the speech and then dropped the two stacks into one pile in front of her. Pence seemed to ignore the action, but he surely knew what she did.
Trump didn’t seem to notice.
After the speech, when reporters asked her about the moment, Pelosi called the speech a “manifesto of mistruths.”
Obviously, there’s plenty of dislike between Trump and Pelosi. That animosity existed well before the State of the Union Address.
But they’re adults. Both should behave better.
Who was worse? That’s easy.
When I look at the video of the missed handshake, I can’t really be certain Trump saw Pelosi reach out. He appeared to be turning his head away from her as she reached out her hand. While some naturally assert it was intentional, it may not have been. I really think it’s at least possible that he didn’t see it.
Of course, he should have offered his hand as well. That would have been a polite move on his part.
There was nothing “polite,” however, about Pelosi ripping up the speech. She suggested after the fact that it was “the courteous thing to do.” There was nothing “courteous” about ripping up his speech with cameras on her and Trump right there.
No matter how much she dislikes him or disliked what he had to say, that wasn’t the time or place.
She could have taken the speech back to her office and shredded to her heart’s content.
Instead, she had to make a statement. And further the division we’re already mired in.
Even if Trump intentionally snubbed Pelosi’s attempt at a handshake, her action was worse.
Some GOP lawmakers in the House even want to officially condemn her actions via a resolution. It probably has as good a chance of passing in the House as Trump had of being convicted of the charges in the impeachment hearing in the Senate.
And therein lies the problem: It appears that our politicians have become too interested in show business and too uninterested in working together to solve problems.
As a nation, we can do so much better.
And as representatives of the people, so can they.