Trump’s State of the Union speech wasn’t designed to linger. It was meant to be experienced in real-time, to wash over a crowd of viewers at home and then dissipate into the ether. He hinted that his predecessor had harmed the economy, instead of pulled it out of a recession. He bragged about people lifting themselves off food stamps, when, in fact, his administration has cut back eligibility. He claimed he would “always protect patients with pre-existing conditions” when he has repeatedly pushed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t matter what the fact-checkers were going to say. The audience he cared about — loyal Republican partisans and apolitical casual viewers — wouldn’t be searching for confirmation.
…In the hours after the speech, that debate raged on — with some predicting that Pelosi’s big gesture would create a backlash, or worse.
…Among the Democratic leaders, Pelosi may not be the smoothest talker, but she is the best, hands-down, at nonverbal communication. From her sarcastic-looking, arms-extended clap at last year’s State of the Union to her standing-up-to-power moment at a White House meeting in October, she has managed to craft small moments into lingering symbolism.