My colleague Patrice tweeted the perfect rejoinder to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s tearing up her copy of President Trump’s SOTU on live TV:
Speaker Pelosi tore up POTUS speech but she can’t tear up the real results he has brought to Americans
The evening was going to be a challenge for the Speaker. She refused to conceal her distaste from the moment she couldn’t bring herself to utter the traditional form of introducing the President at the SOTU.
In the past, speakers have said, “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States.” Last night, Ms. Pelosi said only, “Members of Congress, the President of the United States.”
President Trump either did or didn’t snub Pelosi by not shaking hands with her. We don't know if he saw her proffered hand.
Assuming he did, we can safely say that Presidents George H.W. or George W. Bush would have taken her hand.
The speech was masterful, however. You don’t need me to tell you that. As Mollie Hemingway pointed out at The Federalist the main reason is that President Trump had the facts on his side:
The main reason the speech worked so well was not because President Trump’s delivery was masterful. In fact, a beautiful line early in the speech — “We have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny” — fell a bit flat in his telling.
The speech was well written and played to President Trump’s strengths as a showman, showing policy goals and successes through the gripping stories of real Americans who were present in the balcony. But ultimately the speech was good because the facts were so good.
The Constitution requires the president to “give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The facts regarding the current health of the United States are undeniably strong. The economy is doing so well that it’s a story that can be told from multiple angles, and the policy successes he bragged about were worth bragging about.
Trump highlighted the ordinary men and women who benefit from his policies. Trump is a showman, and this was a great show. He reduced the Democrats to refusing to stand for a child who, after all sorts of travail, received an Opportunity Scholarship, a black Tuskegee Airman who is a hundred years old, and a serviceman returning to his family. Because Democratic women had worn white, their refusal to stand was all the more obvious. It looked heartless at times.
Another nice touch was not only announcing that Rush Limbaugh, who has revealed that he has advanced stage lung cancer, would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom but having first lady Melania Trump bestow it on him right there.
Even if you deplore rudeness and are a stickler for form, Speaker Pelosi’s childish behavior had a value. President Trump is often blamed for the decline in civility. Mrs. Pelosi's behavior showed otherwise.
Scott Johnson summed it up memorably:
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.
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley also commented on the meaning of Pelosi's action:
"Her conduct tore up more than a speech, but decades of tradition and left any semblance of civility in tatters on the House floor," Turley wrote on his webside.
Kudos to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Arizona) for civility and independence. And courage.