After Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced today that the House would move forward with drafting articles of impeachment, a reporter asked her if she hated the president. Pelosi, who was on her way out of the room, stopped in her tracks, whipped around, and said (I’m paraphrasing) “Okay, see sweetie, what we’re not going to do is besmirch my good Catholic name out in these streets with talk about hate.” And I am screaming. Today’s events combine some of my favorite things: people yelling about their moral compasses, a dramatic return to a podium, and badass women leaders setting an entire room straight Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest-style.
I know that technically, this occurred in real life, but spiritually this was written and produced by Shonda Rhimes. What’s best about this clip is that Pelosi was almost to the door when she got the question, which means that she had some distance to travel as she laid the fiercest, most loving, prayer-focused smackdown on this reporter.
As you see in the video, she’s on an absolutely enormous platform with only one set piece—her podium—and she’s dressed in a white pantsuit that positively glows under the lights. This may be a press room somewhere in Congress, but if you told me it was a blackbox theater trying out a sequel to Heidi Schreck’s play What the Constitution Means to Me, I’d believe you. Cuz, honey, Madame Speaker is serving you dramatics.
First of all, there’s the blocking. Speaker Pelosi, with her pivot, cross, and point, is giving you a step-for-step re-creation of the “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” choreography from Dreamgirls. But instead of “and you! and you! and you, you’re gonna love me!” it’s “and I! and I! and I, I’m gonna pray for the president.” Shower her with Tony awards immediately.
At issue here is an assertion, made by Republican Rep. Doug Collins and repeated by a reporter, that Pelosi hates the president. When she hears it, she gives the kind of sharp about-face that’s usually reserved for when your mother asks you a question and you say “What?” instead of “What did you say?”
Pelosi is lightning fast with her response: “I don’t hate anybody,” she says, punctuating her words with jabs of her index finger like an Emmy-winning guest star on the witness stand on Law & Order. “I was raised in a Catholic house and I don’t hate anybody in the world.” Now, if I were this reporter, I would have immediately packed up my knives and gone home. Pelosi was like “You want to come into my mother’s house and tell the framed photograph of Jesus Christ above the dining room table that I, Nancy Patricia Pelosi, have hate in my heart?! During the season of Advent?! You want to tell little gestating baby Jesus in utero at the moment that I am involved in hatred? HOW DARE YOU?” I would have been like, “So sorry, Madame Speaker. My mistake. Please forgive me. Sister Mary Clarence is one of my favorite characters of all time.”
That is not what happens at the press conference though. The reporter continues to press, citing Collins’ comments. “Representative Collins yesterday suggested that the Democrats are doing this simply because they don’t like the guy,” he said. Now, I don’t like to criticize fellow members of the media, nor do I want to throw around my Pulitzer (for thirst journalism), but this line of questioning is reductive. The Speaker of the House has laid out the case for impeachment and reporters can’t get past some high school-level gossip? “I read in Regina George’s Burn Book that you have hate in your heart! Care to comment?” Come on, babe.
By this time, Pelosi has had quite enough of this. She moves from the open space to the microphone which is the height of drama. She’s like, “I know you can hear me without the mic but let me go find my light and hit my mark at center stage so you know I mean business.” This has the same energy as Cardi B’s Instagram statement about her feud with Nicki Minaj, which she begins by saying “I’m glad you brung it up cuz I’ve been wanting to talk about it for a fucking hot minute.”
Imagine if Nancy Pelosi had been like “Oh, you want to know how loving and religiously devout I am? I’m glad you brought it up cuz I’ve been dying to talk about my deep devotion to Catholicism for a fucking hot minute!” I would have turned to joyful dust immediately. I honestly would have just stopped existing.
Instead, back at the podium she goes all the way in on all the things that are wrong with Trump for which she pities him and she prays for him, but she does not hate him. Nancy Pelosi is not from the South but this has huge “Bless his heart” energy.
“This is about the Constitution of the United States,” she says, reaching the crescendo in the greatest Julia Sugarbaker monologue ever delivered. “And the facts that lead to the president’s violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic I resent you using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me… So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.” And then she walked right off the stage while I jumped to my feet at my desk and gave her 16 and one half minutes of uninterrupted thunderous applause.
AND THAT, MARJORIE, JUST SO YOU WILL KNOW, AND YOUR CHILDREN WILL SOMEDAY KNOW, IS THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT ON THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.