February 7, 2019
Washington Post “gender and society” columnist Monica Hesse wasn’t a bit shy about being a Democrat cheerleader after the president’s big speech. Her column was headlined “The exquisite shade of Nancy Pelosi’s applause at the State of the Union.” The Post also used the term “exquisite rudeness” in social media.
Now try to imagine this newspaper ever using the term “exquisite rudeness” to a Democratic president. Six years ago, the same paper offered this SOTU review from TV critic Hank Stuever:
(I think my favorite RT of the evening was from @TheTweetOfGod: “I was trying to come up with a neat way of saying John Boehner looks like a constipated apricot but I couldn’t.”)
Hesse described Pelosi’s contempt like it was a kind of gourmet delicacy:
The lasting visual image from Tuesday night’s State of the Union address was captured by photographer Doug Mills. It featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applauding President Trump in a way that can only be described as . . . withering? Pitying? Lucille Bluth-like in its contemptuousness? [That’s a character on the TV show Arrested Development.]
At his lectern, the president mentioned bipartisanship and turned to acknowledge Speaker Pelosi; she rewarded him by cocking her head, arching an eyebrow, and inventing, as comedian Patton Oswalt would put it online, a clap that somehow managed to be a profanity.
Its power was in its restraint. Pelosi was not booing the president. She was acknowledging his words. She was providing him, in the technical sense, with exactly what he was hoping for: approval. But this was a derogatory clap, make no mistake. This was mockery wearing a half-baked costume of politeness.
Her lips mostly remained either pursed or puckered, as if the entire speech was a bit of gristle that must be endured before it could be discreetly spit into a napkin.…