With an occasional raised brow, a whisper under her breath, a studious reading of the text and applause for most of the guests, Pelosi had exercised a measure of self-control throughout the speech that most of us do not possess. There she sat as Trump began his speech by claiming falsely that he revived an economy in decay.
She listened as he took credit for worker, environmental and prescription drug consumer protections in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement for which she had delivered the House votes. She remained in her seat as Trump bellowed his support for 130 million Americans living with preexisting conditions even as his administration is trying to kill one of her signature accomplishments, the Affordable Care Act, and all its protections in the courts. She sat on her hands as he urged “the Congress” to give him a prescription drug bill to sign when she knows that the bill named for her friend the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and passed by the House is gathering dust on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) floor. It may have been a little too much to rise as Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to purveyor of hate and division Rush Limbaugh — a medal previously received by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who is battling cancer.
The entire State of the Union show — the chanting, the demonstrably false claims, the campaign-style speech — deserved a showstopper ending. With impeachment hanging in the air, that page-ripping gesture was a fitting ending, the correct response to a president who has destroyed all norms of behavior, decorum, civility and democracy. So stop the hand-wringing and pearl-clutching over Nancy Pelosi shredding Trump’s “manifesto of mistruths” as he has shredded the Constitution. Maybe it wasn’t an end, but a prequel to the shameful end of the trial and an acquittal for a president who will be forever impeached for abusing his power and obstructing Congress.