House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was “very proud of the dignity with which our members listened” during President Trump’s “bait-and-switch speech” to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, though she noted this morning that lawmakers who knew they were at risk of an outburst stayed home.
“The president talks a good talk. But the fact is, show us, three months, almost three months since he’s been elected; 41 days since he has been president. And we still haven’t seen, we’re legislators. So if you want to talk, show us your proposal and we go from there,” Pelosi told MSNBC.
Asked if there were conversations about staying respectful during Trump’s more than hourlong address, Pelosi quipped, “What happens in the caucus stays in the caucus.”
Democratic women wore white, the color of suffragettes, as a statement about women’s rights, and lawmakers on that side of the aisle left their seats and began filing out of the chamber as soon as Trump had spoken his last word.
“Let me tell you this. One of our members who shall remain nameless but probably is in the public domain anyway, said at one of the caucuses, look if you can’t curb your enthusiasm there tonight don’t go, and I’m not going,” Pelosi said, not confirming the network’s speculation that she was referring to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
“Well, let’s just say this. What I was concerned was that people might boo. Because for all of the dignity that we wanted to bring to the address of the president, the fact is, I had no idea he was going to make an assault on public education, that he was going to have nothing positive to say about immigration, that he’s going to blow up the deficit. The list goes on and on,” she added. “And to see the Republicans applauding blowing up the budget, protectionism, isolationism — it’s hard to watch.”
Pelosi said when Democrats “believe the time is right we will put forth our positive agenda.”
“But not while people are still enamored by what could be viewed as a snake oil salesman by some, and a messenger of hope by others,” she said.
Waters said between House votes Tuesday that she wouldn’t pull a Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who shouted “you lie!” at President Obama in his 2009 address. “I would never speak out in the chamber. That’s what Republicans do, not what Democrats do,” she insisted.
“These are ceremonial exercises. These are exercises where we honor the president, and people are shaking hands, smiling. It is an occasion where people are basically sending the message that everybody’s working together, everything is going well. I don’t quite see it that way,” Waters said. “I don’t honor this president. I don’t respect this president. And I’m not joyful in the presence of this president, and so I will not be attending tonight.”
“I’ve thought about it an awful lot, and I’ve thought about if there are any circumstance under which you would engage in this kind of ceremony. The only thing I could think of was this: If he would apologize to the disabled for mimicking and mocking the disabled journalist, if he would apologize to women for talking about grabbing them in their private parts, if he would apologize for some of the other outrageous actions that he has been involved in, maybe I would,” she added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Calif.) panned reviews praising Trump’s more positive tone: “His speeches are always totally detached from reality,” Schumer told ABC, adding the “speech will go away today and his actions will be there, that’s why he had such a rough 40 days.”