Hey, tiger. Long week, huh? Between the Jeff Bezos vs. National Enquirer dustup and the acting attorney general of the United States testifying before Congress, there’s been a lot of back and forth. But last week also saw the premiere of Ariana Grande’s new video and a cat that miraculously came back to life after being frozen in the snow, so it’s not all bad. Happy Year of the Pig, everybody!
The State of the Union Is as Boring as Ever
What Happened: After all the shutdown drama, last week President Trump was finally able to give his 2019 State of the Union address. Was it worth waiting for? It depends on how much you were looking forward to bad writing and flat delivery, but at least the audience was interesting.
What Really Happened: Welp, after a lot of political rigamarole, President Trump gave his State of the Union speech last week—and what a speech it was. Clocking in at 82 minutes, it was the third longest State of the Union speech ever. (Unable to break the record for the longest speech ever? Sad!) But journalists aside, nobody really cares about the runtime except for the poor people who had to sit through the whole thing. We’ll get back to them later. In the meantime, let’s look at what Trump said.
As should be expected, fact–checkers were busy pointing out falsehoods and misstatements, but even they couldn’t make people take the speech as anything other than a damp squib, judging by the reaction online.
Of course, we can’t just blame the writing in this case. After all, it is a speech delivered by Donald Trump, and that brings certain … shall we call them perks? Sure, why not.
It’s also worth noting what the president didn’t mention during the speech.
But let’s get back to that lengthy run time. Just how long was the speech this year? More importantly, how long did it feel? Well, let’s consider the case of one of the special guests at the speech, brought there by the First Family.
So, yeah. It was a pretty bad speech. So bad that a lot of the post-speech discussion online didn’t actually focus on Trump’s oration, but on people the world was actually interested in. Of particular interest, as is becoming increasingly common these days, was the presence of representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Even among other congresspeople, she was a star.
People were obsessed with what she was wearing (especially as she was one of many women of Congress dressed in white for symbolic reasons)—
The speech also launched a meme that put KKK hoods on AOC and the other Democratic women wearing white, but, as ever, Ocasio-Cortez rose above the cheap shots with a blunt, honest response.
To be fair, she may have already won even before the State of the Union thanks to this preview tweet:
Who would have thought that the Twitter President would run too long, and be brought low by someone else keeping to 280 characters or less? Is that … irony?
The Takeaway: This feels like an appropriate summary of what happened during the State of the Union, sadly. More sadly, this could describe so many State of the Unions before this one.
Nancy Pelosi Is All of Us Watching the SOTU
What Happened: Not content with winning people over by standing up to the president during the shutdown, last week speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi became the internet’s avatar for State of the Union responses.
What Really Happened: Officially, the Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union speech came from Stacey Abrams, who delivered a short speech that seemed to go over well, triggering talk of a possible presidential run and panic at Fox News. But neither Abrams, nor even AOC, provided the most popular and widely shared Democratic rebuttal to the president’s speech. No, for that, the internet turned to Nancy Pelosi. Madame Speaker?
Sure, we all know what a “hell no” look is, but if only there was a perfect example of just how wonderfully passive aggressive Pelosi’s clapping looked…
Everyone immediately understood what was going on in the image, and so, a meme was born.
The internet was in love.
It was the clapback seen around the world, and was soon the subject of a number of news stories the next day. When sarcastic applause gets as much coverage as a speech, that’s when you know that nobody was really listening to what was being said.
The Takeaway: There’s one person who recognized exactly what Pelosi was doing: her daughter.
What Happened: As if to reinforce that no one was paying attention to the State of the Union, lawmakers responded to Trump’s demand not to be investigated by announcing a new wide-ranging investigation into his administration and campaign.
What Really Happened: One particular line of Trump’s SOTU speech would appear to be particularly prescient, given what happened the very next day—and not just because it was an awkward, tortured rhyme.
Less than 24 hours after the president complained publicly that there “cannot” be an investigation into his administration, the House Intelligence Committee—now under Democrat control for the first time in the Trump era—made a couple of big announcements.
OK, that was kind of big. (Only kind of, because the Republican-controlled Intelligence Committee voted to release some of those transcripts last year, so it’s not as if they were entirely hidden.) Even that was, however, the lesser of the two pieces of news announced by Rep. Adam Schiff on Wednesday.
Yes, the House will really for serious investigate the president and potential wrongdoing, unlike what happened under Republicans, which was clearly not intended to be a serious investigation. Oh, and that’s not all: Everyone in America will get to find out exactly what the investigation reveals.
So, you know, that’s kind of a big deal. How did the president, who just finished declaring he shouldn’t be investigated, respond to the news that he was actually going to be very investigated? The answer is pretty much, “as you’d expect.”
That was just the start of his tailspin; the next day on Twitter, he shared how he really felt.
So, the tenor of his reaction seems to be “clearly terrified,” then. The next few months clearly aren’t going to be boring, at least.
The Takeaway: How best to sum up this week in terms of the volleys between the president and the House Intelligence Committee? This seems pretty accurate, considering.
Bad Yearbook Photos
What Happened: Apparently, every politician of a certain age in Virginia has a personal connection to blackface in their past.
What Really Happened: It’s not all about Washington this week, though! Let’s take a moment to consider the horror show that is Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s response to the discovery of a photograph that may, perhaps, have featured him either dressed as a member of the KKK or in blackface. After initially apologizing hours after the photo went viral last Friday, he shockingly walked back that apology a day later.
Oh, but it got worse. Much worse.
Yes, that’s right; Northam’s argument that it wasn’t him in a photograph showing someone in blackface was, essentially, “Don’t get me wrong, I did get dressed up in blackface, but I didn’t look like that.” And that’s saying nothing about the fact that he almost moonwalked at the press conference, only to be talked out of it by his wife. Let’s just say that it was far from the most convincing pushback.
This really didn’t go down well with other Democrats.
As of this writing, a full week after the photograph originally came to light, Northam has not resigned—indeed, he reportedly refuses to do so in case that meant he would be branded as “racist for life,” as if that’s not a done deal already—but the heat has been inexplicably taken off him by the fact that a second Democrat in Virginia came out as wearing blackface last week.
Unsurprisingly, the Republican Party swiftly moved to take advantage of this.
But, guess what? Spoiler alert: It’s exactly what you’re worried about.
Oh, and then there was this, too.
The Takeaway: What’s genuinely shocking about the following tweet is that it doesn’t actually seem over-the-top or out-of-bounds considering what’s actually been happening this week.
What Happened: Actor Liam Neeson said some fairly racist-sounding things. Lots of people noticed.
What Really Happened: In what might be an almost-impressive feat of career suicide, Liam Neeson decided to share something that he really shouldn’t have last week.
It almost sounds like an Onion joke, but it really wasn’t; Neeson did indeed give an interview wherein he admitted to wandering around wanting to attack a person of color after a friend had been raped.
The writer of the Independent story took to Twitter to talk about her experience.
Some people tried to see the funny side of the what was happening—
—but more people couldn’t quite see what was worth laughing about.
People weren’t convinced by it, and the backlash continued as public events got cancelled. Would no one stand up for Neeson, preferably with a ridiculous statement that you can’t quite believe was shared publicly?
There we go. Celebrities! They’re just like us, only they say really stupid things and everyone hears about it!
The Takeaway: Man, remember when Liam Neeson wasn’t an embarrassment? You know, like a week ago?