While Tuesday night’s State of the Union address by President Trump clocked in at over 80 minutes, the third-longest in modern history, what it may be remembered for the most is not what the president said or even how long he took to say it, but rather how Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applauded in response to his words.
As the Washington Post reported, Twitter is abuzz with comments on Pelosi’s reaction when Trump started talking about rejecting the “politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.”
Apparently, that was too much for Pelosi to take, in light of what many have termed a divisive first two years in office for Trump. The ongoing, seemingly intractable feud between the administration and the now-Democrat-controlled House of Representatives over funding for Trump’s wall at the southern border of the U.S. has not been the been the picture of “compromise” for many.
Pelosi rose from her seat and applauded the president with her arms fully extended toward Trump, maintaining eye contact with him and seeming to smirk. Many Twitter users termed it a “literal clap-back” directed at the president, garnering Pelosi a mention in over 220,000 tweets. Twitter user @HillaryWarnedUs dubbed Pelosi “The Queen of Condescending Applause.”
“Respect to Pelosi,” wrote Twitter user @RespectableLaw. “Circumstance demanded she clap, so she invented this weird walrus clap that was mocking, aggressive, and delightfully surreal all at the same time. Nobody has ever has clapped like this.”
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt went even further.
“Congrats to @SpeakerPelosi for inventing the ‘f*ck you’ clap,” Oswalt tweeted, with the word unedited.
Other Twitter users found her to share the same sarcastic vibe of fictional characters like the Harry Potter series’ Hermione Granger and Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development.
— The Hill (@thehill) February 6, 2019
Still, other social media users were not so amused, noting that, aside from the viral clapping moment, Pelosi seemed largely disinterested in what Trump was saying, spending much of the address looking at papers in front of her.
“Huge disrespect shown by a ridiculous woman that is chewing on something and looking at her art papers/menus/notes on when to sit down, through the entire evening,” tweeted user @djsblondie.
A spokesman for Pelosi later confirmed that she had been reading over her copy of the text of the president’s address.
“She looks like a babysitter reading the rules of a board game while the kids are just chucking game pieces at each other,” said Late Night host Seth Myers.
Still, it will be the clapping that Pelosi is most remembered for during this State of the Union address, or as the Washington Post put it, for depicting “the face of Democratic exasperation.”