Pelosi Shreds Decades Of Tradition In Demonstrating Against Trump

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This morning I have a column in the Hill newspaper on my reaction to the disgraceful conduct of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and various Democratic members at the State of the Union address last night. As I tweeted during the address, her conduct tore up more than a speech, but decades of tradition and left any semblance of civility in tatters on the House floor.

Forty-four years ago, I walked on to the floor of the House of Representatives as a new Democratic 15-year-old page from Chicago.  I stood and marveled at the beehive of activity on the floor in the People’s House. I can still remember that moment because it forged a bond and reverence that has never weakened for me.  As a Democratic leadership page during the speakership of Tip O’Neill, I watched some of the most passionate and important debates of the generation from the Neutron Bomb to civil rights legislation to sweeping national park bills.  The country was deeply divided, but both parties maintained the tradition of civility and decorum.  I was struck how members, even in the heat of furious debates, would not attack each other by name and followed rigid principles of decorum. They understood that they were the custodians of this institution and bore a duty to strengthen and pass along those traditions to the next generation.

That is why I was (and remain) so offended by this display. I believe that President Trump himself is worthy of criticism for not shaking the hand of Pelosi. I also did not approve of aspects of his speech, including bestowing the Medal of Freedom on Rush Limbaugh in the gallery like a reality show surprise scene. There was much to object to in the address, but presidents often make comments that enrage or irritate speakers.

However, none of that excuses Pelosi. At that moment, she represents the House as an institution — both Republicans and Democrats. Instead, she decided to become little more than a partisan troll from an elevated position. The protests of the Democratic members also reached a new low for the House. Pelosi did not gavel out the protest. She seemed to join it.

It was the tradition of the House that a speaker must remain in stone-faced neutrality no matter what comes off that podium. The tradition ended last night with one of the more shameful and inglorious moments of the House in its history. Rather than wait until she left the floor, she decided to demonstrate against the President as part of the State of the Union and from the Speaker’s chair. That made it a statement not of Pelosi but of the House.

For those of us who truly love the House as an institution, it was one of the lowest moments to unfold on the floor. That is why I argue in the Hill that, if Pelosi does not apologize and agree to honor the principle of neutrality and civility at the State of the Union, she should resign as speaker.

560 thoughts on “Pelosi Shreds Decades Of Tradition In Demonstrating Against Trump”

  1. Pelosi has publicly disrespected our President and allowed her feelings to interfere with her job. She should step down as Speaker Of The House!!

  2. Kudos, from someone who is on opposite sides of politics from you, but who applauds you for what most citizens have no podium to declare. I, too, believe civility in our country exists only in a dictionary. Thank you, sincerely

  3. So, Mr. Turley, I respect your position. At the same time, I do not remember any vociferous proclamations about how the President has engaged in “shameful and inglorious moments” and demeaned the office of the Presidency. If I missed them, then I apologize. Please correct me if so.

  4. PELOSI HAS ALLOWED HER PERSONAL FEELINGS FOR OUR PRESIDENT INTERFERE WITH HER JOB AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. SHE SHOULD STEP DOWN AS SPEAKER TO PRESERVE THE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE!

    1. Thanks for your concern, what about the effect the orange one is having on our democracy? Faux outrage and lackluster sock puppet name

  5. While Nancy rips up Trump’s speech in front of the world, what is the world thinking about the policies written on those ripped sheets of paper?
    —-
    Is Trump’s Unorthodoxy Becoming Orthodox? Victor Davis Hanson February 6, 2020 6:30 AM

    The U.S. has become no better friend to an increasing number of allies and neutrals, and no worse an adversary to a shrinking group of enemies.
    When candidate Donald Trump campaigned on calling China to account for its trade piracy, observers thought he was either crazy or dangerous.

    Conventional Washington wisdom had assumed that an ascendant Beijing was almost preordained to world hegemony. Trump’s tariffs and polarization of China were considered about the worst thing an American president could do.

    The accepted bipartisan strategy was to accommodate, not oppose, China’s growing power. The hope was that its newfound wealth and global influence would liberalize the ruling Communist government.

    Four years later, only a naif believes that. Instead, there is an emerging consensus that China’s cutthroat violations of international norms were long ago overdue for an accounting.

    China’s re-education camps, its Orwellian internal surveillance, its crackdown on Hong Kong democracy activists, and its secrecy about the deadly coronavirus outbreak have all convinced the world that China has now become a dangerous international outlier.

    Trump courted moderate Arab nations in forming an anti-Iranian coalition opposed to Iran’s terrorist and nuclear agendas. His policies utterly reversed the Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel and outreach to Tehran.

    Last week, Trump nonchalantly offered the Palestinians a take-it-or-leave-it independent state on the West Bank, but without believing that a West Bank settlement was the key to peace in the entire Middle East.

    Trump’s cancelation of the Iran deal, in particular, was met with international outrage. More global anger followed after the targeted killing of Iranian terrorist leader general Qasem Soleimani.

    In short, Trump’s Middle East recalibrations won few supporters among the bipartisan establishment.

    But recently, Europeans have privately started to agree that more sanctions are needed on Iran, that the world is better off with Soleimani gone, and that the West Bank is not central to regional peace.

    Iran has now become a pariah. U.S.-sponsored sanctions have reduced the theocracy to near-bankruptcy. Most nations understand that if Iran kills Americans or openly starts up its nuclear program, the U.S. will inflict disproportional damage on its infrastructure — a warning that at first baffled, then angered, and now has humiliated Iran.

    In other words, there is now an entirely new Middle East orthodoxy that was unimaginable just three years ago.

    Suddenly the pro-Iranian, anti-Western Palestinians have few supporters. Israel and a number of prominent Arab nations are unspoken allies of convenience against Iran. And Iran itself is seemingly weaker than at any other time in the theocracy’s history.

    Stranger still, instead of demanding that the U.S. leave the region, many Middle Eastern nations privately seem eager for more of a now-reluctant U.S. presence.

    For the last 20 years, much of the American orthodoxy had agreed with Europe that the increasingly anti-democratic, pan-continental, and borderless European Union was the remedy to all of Europe’s past 20th-century catastrophes.

    As a result, American presidents did not do much when EU nations typically racked up large trade surpluses with the U.S., often a result of asymmetrical fees, tariffs, and fines.

    The U.S. largely ignored the increasingly anti-democratic and anti-American tone of the EU.

    Nor did Americans object much when lackadaisical European NATO nations habitually welched on their defense-spending commitments.

    Apparently, past U.S. administrations supposed that a paternalistic America would always be more eager to defend Europe than Europe would be to defend itself.

    But then Trump again blew up more old assumptions.

    NATO will now only survive if its members keep their word and meet their spending promises. An economically stagnant, oil-hungry, and top-heavy EU will have to make radical changes, or it will sink into irrelevance and eventually break apart.

    Trump got little credit for these revolutionary changes because he is, after all, Trump — a wheeler-dealer, an ostentatious outsider, unpredictable in action, and not shy about rude talk.

    But his paradoxical and successful policies — the product of conservative, anti-war, and pro-worker agendas — are gradually winning supporters and uniting disparate groups.

    After all, the U.S. is beefing up its military but using it only sparingly. It hits back hard at enemies but does not hit first. For Trump, being conventional is dangerous; being unpredictable is far safer.

    For all Trump’s tough talk, his ace in the hole is American soft power — based on a globally dominant economy, its global lead in the production of gas and oil, and an omnipresent cultural juggernaut.

    For Trump the ex-television star, wars translate into bad ratings and worse optics. As a businessman, he believes needless conflicts get in the way of money-making and win-win deals.

    The result of the new orthodoxy is that the U.S. has become no better friend to an increasing number of allies and neutrals, and no worse an adversary to a shrinking group of enemies. And yet Trump’s paradox is that America’s successful new foreign policy is as praised privately as it is caricatured publicly — at least for now.

  6. Thank you for speaking out and for willingness to engage in our political process as someone who brings much needed respect, wisdom, and much needed decorum.

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