It was not so long ago that Nancy Pelosi told Chris Wallace the answer to the pandemic was simple: to shelter-in-place and observe scientific guidelines. Apparently, however, those rules apply only to others and not to her — at least when she needs her hair styled.
On Monday, Speaker Pelosi went to a San Francisco salon for a wash and blow dry. The salon owner, Erica Kious, a single mom with two small children, was outraged. Her salon has been shuttered since March and she fears she’ll be forced to close within the year. “It was a slap in the face that [Pelosi] went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can’t work,” Kious told Fox News.
According to Pelosi, “a quarantine is the answer to opening up our economy sooner.” But that’s easy for the Speaker to say. Her job and salary are secure. There is no question she will continue to receive a paycheck from the federal government. Meanwhile, ordinary businesses are struggling to survive.
While city rules may allow one customer in a salon at one time, that is no help to business owners like Kious, who cannot possibly support their business based on a one-customer-at-a-time business model. At the very least, Pelosi’s decision to get her hair styled while salons remain shuttered represents a tone-deaf failure of leadership.
Further, while Pelosi recently mandated that everyone wear a mask in the House Chamber, she is seen on security footage walking through the San Francisco hair salon without one. Yet in late July, Pelosi instituted rules requiring members and staff “to wear masks at all times in the hall of the House.” “The Chair” — read Speaker Pelosi — “expects all members and staff to adhere to this requirement as an item of respect.” Further, Pelosi informed members and staff that she viewed “the failure to wear the mask as a serious breach of decorum.” Her words remind us of the maxim popularized by Abraham Lincoln: “Actions speak louder than words.”
While the Speaker’s staff maintained that she followed all of the rules during her salon visit, San Francisco’s face-covering regulations appear to apply to someone traversing the public areas of a salon with her stylist. First, no person is allowed into a business without a face covering. Second, a face covering is required when you are within 6 feet of people who don’t live with you. And although there are no salon-specific rules — because salons are not open to the general public — face coverings are required in the public areas of businesses: wherever you are waiting to be seated, leave a restaurant table, wait in line, or shop at a store. Further, San Francisco requires face coverings “in spaces someone might be in later” — including the “common area inside a building, even if you’re alone.”
Pelosi appears to have violated San Francisco’s regulations six-ways from Sunday, and while we can all sympathize with the desire to get one’s hair done mask-free, we have not all mandated face-coverings as a matter of respect and decorum. Once again, ordinary rules seem not to apply to Speaker Pelosi.
As Martin Luther wrote long ago, our leaders do not have the option of fleeing a pandemic. They are elected to serve, to protect, and to preserve their communities and their country. Leaders shouldn’t have the option of exempting themselves from rules that apply to everyone else.