Nancy Pelosi’s ‘sarcastic’ clapping steals Trump’s thunder at State of the Union address

Speaker of the House becomes subject of online celebration following apparently condescending applause

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 06 February 2019 11:10
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State of the Union: Nancy Pelosi stands and leans towards Donald Trump as she pointedly applauds him

Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address saw the US president talk for a full hour and 20 minutes, but the moment which may be remembered best came from the woman sitting behind him and lasted seconds.

After the president raised eyebrows in a passage calling for political unity, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began clapping and rose to her feet to deliver a standing ovation which instantly attracted comment over its sincerity.

“Congrats to @SpeakerPelosi for inventing the ‘f*** you’ clap,” tweeted US stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt.

Ms Pelosi’s “sarcastic” clapping has already been enshrined in internet meme culture, with images of her long-armed applause superimposed into a range of other situations, including Maroon 5’s underwhelming Super Bowl half time show, and Mr Trump’s White House McDonald’s burger feast.

Ms Pelosi’s applause followed a passage in Mr Trump’s speech which seemed incredible given his regular personal attacks against his rivals, and recent government shutdown.

“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” he said.

His calls for political unity seemed particularly hollow given reports Mr Trump had mocked former vice president Joe Biden, and the late Republican Senator John McCain and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer just hours earlier during the State of the Union lunch, which was attended by several news reporters.

Mr Trump said: “When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose; it’s not a gaffe. When Biden says something dumb, it’s because he’s dumb.”

He also reportedly described Mr Schumer as a “nasty son of a bitch”, and talking about Mr McCain, he said: “He wrote a book and the book bombed.”

Responding to Ms Pelosi’s standing ovation, US journalist Mark Gongloff wrote: “You could power Cleveland for weeks on this pure sarcasm energy”.

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