The distaff contingent of the House Democrats’ caucus attended the State of the Union address last night dressed in white. I had forgotten the meaning of the symbolism, although I did notice that no one’s attire exceeded Pelosi’s in whiteness. She was, preeminently, the woman in white.
As President Trump moved into the wrenching heart of his speech, Pelosi demonstrated her disapproval with a variety of facial maneuvers. Like a third-rate actress, Pelosi sought to express irrepressible rage. You can’t keep a good nut down. Pelosi’s theatrics culminated in her tearing up the president’s text of the speech.
What a performance.
Pelosi put me in mind of The Woman In White, the Gothic novel by Wilkie Collins. As Collins’s novel opens, the woman in white appears. In the course of the novel we learn that she is Anne Catherick, a fragile lady who has escaped from an asylum in which she had been imprisoned by Sir Percival Glyde.
If not an escapee from the asylum, Pelosi might have qualified as a candidate for commitment. She needs help. With help, she could perhaps impersonate a normal human being. That’s the way it looked.
Pelosi no doubt disapproves of the policies President Trump advocated, the views he expressed, the patriotism he summoned in the State of the Union speech. The hatred to which she gave visible expression is no doubt genuine, yet she is a disciplined political actor. If Pelosi had wanted simply to maintain her composure with an icy demeanor, she could have done so.
Pelosi’s behavior can’t have benefited her outside the hate America left. What accounted for her histrionic disapproval last night?
I would guess that Pelosi felt obligated to display her disapproval to the other women in white and their soulmates in the Democratic caucus. Respect and courtesy are not their thing. Rashida Tlaib’s January 2019 vow that she and her colleagues would “impeach the mother” expressed the derangement of the inmates whose ranks Pelosi leads.
Pelosi brags that the impeachment of President Trump marks him forever. This is how she thinks. That is her contribution. Perhaps, however, President Trump will be the first president impeached by the House to win reelection. Then what?
Most moments State of the Union speeches come and go without leaving a mark. President Trump provided many deeply touching if not transcendent moments last night. The stain with which Pelosi marked herself last night should prove indelible.