Was It Disrespectful?

Social media has been abuzz about Nancy Pelosi’s dramatic endcap on last night’s State of the Union speech when she tore up her copy of the President’s speech.

Was it disrespectful?

Of course it was disrespectful.

And my hunch is intentionally disrespectful. I don’t think it was a spur of the moment, act-of-passion moment. I think it was carefully planned. She was expecting an act of disrespect. In turn, she was going to demand respect.

Several years ago, I was a part of a group of citizens that arranged to meet with the then governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn. Prior to his election he had agreed to meet regularly with us as a way to be accountable to the promises he had made in support of some initiatives in our communities. We had met with him a couple of times before and he had always been late. He was scheduled to speak at one of our assemblies. He was late, an hour late. On this particular occasion, we had arranged to meet on the top floor the Thompson building in downtown Chicago. It was the “governor’s floor.” We had made a special request to him to honor our time; we were working people who had taken time off from our job and had to travel downtown from the suburbs to meet with him. Our time was as valuable as his. Except that, apparently, in his mind it wasn’t. We sat in the designated room for 20 minutes after the appointed meeting time and began to talk about what we should do. We decided to wait until half past the hour and if he wasn’t there we would leave. At 3:30 we got up from the table in the meeting room and moved toward the hallway.

About that time, the governor and his entourage appeared at the other end of the hallway. “What’s going on here?” he blustered.

“We’re leaving. Our meeting was scheduled to start a half hour ago and you’re late. Our time is as valuable as yours.”

He blew up, shouting expletives, “Who do you think I am? I’m the governor of Illinois. You don’t walk out of a meeting with me!”

One of our leaders quietly responded, “Governor, you are 30 minutes late. Our time is as valuable as yours. You have had a pattern of arriving late, so we specifically asked you to make it to this meeting on time. We demand that you respect us and our time.” In the end, he calmed down, apologized, and we went on to have a productive meeting.

Respect is a two-way street.

If the tearing up of the speech manuscript was one bookend for the State of the Union speech, the other was the very intentional and obvious snubbing of the Speaker of the House by refusing to shake her hand. Those kinds of official greetings are part of the protocol and liturgy of The State of the Union speech. To skip that protocol was also no accident and was as calculated as was Pelosi’s tearing up of the speech. The President’s disrespect is one more example of a man whose stock in trade is disrespect. He has a long history of disrespecting women by objectifying them and demeaning them, part of a larger pattern of disrespect that includes calling his political opponents names, mocking disabled persons, referring to certain countries as sh*thole countries and the list goes on and on.

Respect is a two-way street.

9 thoughts on “Was It Disrespectful?

  1. Lawrence Murray

    I agree that respect is a two way street. To my knowledge, this was the first time that Speaker Pelosi disrespected President Trump. However, I cannot count the number of times Trump has disrespected Pelosi, including repeated name calling. As an historian of 20th Century America, I can say, without fear of contradiction, that President Donald Trump has made more disrespectful statements about political opponents and others than all of his predecessors combined. Actually, I am hard pressed to note a single occasion in which the President of the United States has publicly disrespected anyone, perhaps in private, but never in public.

    1. Jim Honig Post author

      Exactly, Larry. And as I alluded to, but didn’t state specifically, I think his snub was also calculated to be a snub of s powerful woman. Thanks for the comment

  2. Teri Pehta

    Thanks for expressing the frustration felt by so many who cannot fathom how this man became and continues to be the President of our country. That half the country sees nothing wrong with what he says and does is frightening. That the Senate will admit his guilt , but vote to keep him in office is more than hypocrisy. I am waiting for the TRUTH TO SET US FREE. I pray for justice and encourage the populace to vote in November so that we have a chance to right ourselves and save our democracy.

  3. Grace Rossman

    Hi Jim- Thanks for sharing this. Suddenly the issue becomes about Nancy Pelosi’s ‘misdeed’ instead of the president’s entire life of missteps and insanity. That’s the only reason I wish she had not done this. But I get it. The amount of frustration must be enormous. And all the work the house of reps have completed goes to the senate where Mitch McConnell refuses to bring it to the floor because the house is majority Democrat. Nancy probably dreams of homicide. This has to stop somehow, and I think it’s when a Republican senator finally gets a big swallow of courage and recruits his fellow lawmakers to rally around decency and good instead of party first and slimy tricks. OR maybe the people who voted in this disaster realize the problem and solve it. Somehow I’m not seeing it. We’ve been driving to Arizona, and watched Fox ’News’ one night on the way. Ted Cruz was chatting with 4 alleged newscasters, who all had bloviated opinions and variations on the truth to spout. But the prideful gloating disrespect was absolutely incredible. Not a regular viewer, I had no idea what America is being fed. Wow. It’s no wonder people have a sketchy grasp of the truth. See you in March.

    Grace Rossman gracefrossman@gmail.com 920-493-6801


  4. June Waller

    Very well said. Did you see how the POTUS disrespected the singing of the National anthem at the start of the Super Bowl. I only saw it on MSNBC but thought it should have been shown broadly!

  5. Doris Bettin

    Hi, Jim, Couldn’t agree more with every word you expressed. Nancy Pelosi’s response to that self-serving “update” regarding the state of our union was perfect! Our country needs some big changes!


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