photo used with permission from The White House
President Donald Trump’s third State of the Union address Feb. 4 was a masterpiece of political showmanship, praised by conservatives and derided as a partisan drama by Trump’s opponents.
The speech began, as usual, with the President shaking hands with congressmen, senators, the Vice President, and the Speaker of the House. However, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended her hand to continue with the age-old State of the Union tradition, Trump instead turned his back to her. In response, Pelosi took a paper copy of Trump’s remarks and tore them up, the spat televised live to millions of American households.
While this episode in and of itself will have little impact, it serves to demonstrate the partisan hostility that shall permeate every aspect of the year to come, a sense only amplified by Trump’s campaign-style remarks in the House chamber. While the State of the Union had been a solemn tradition of Presidents laying out their agenda in a civilized manner, Trump’s address and Pelosi’s behavior will help set the tone of a brutal election year marked by partisan tribalism and widespread politically-motivated animosity among much of the general public.