Newt Gingrich: The Nastiness of Pelosi and Democrats Will Be Their Party's Downfall | Opinion

When the Democrats collapse in a sweep this fall, a significant part of their failure will be traced to their pettiness and nastiness.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's behavior at the State of the Union was only the most recent example of someone who is out of control and simply doesn't understand what the larger country is seeing.

Of course, the night before, the Democrats' dance of self-destruction in Iowa had reminded people they have become the party of incompetence. (Their inability to count something as simple as a caucus was a vivid reminder that Democrats could not possibly run a national health care system.)

On Tuesday, Pelosi reminded everyone that Democrats are the party of viciousness.

We all watched Vice President Mike Pence and Pelosi endure standing next to each other—with virtually no conversation—for 20 minutes as the various groups came into the House chamber. It was clear this State of the Union was going to be a little tense.

President Donald Trump was well received when he entered the Chamber. Democrats, as well as Republicans, shook his hand and chatted happily with him as he came down the aisle.

When Pelosi offered her hand and Trump ignored it, the burden of civility seemed to be on the president.

However, Pelosi ensured that would not last. Her introduction of simply "the President of the United States" was jarring to anyone who knew the traditional introduction, which I used for President Bill Clinton four times. Traditionally, the speaker says to members of Congress: "I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States." Pelosi's omission of the honorific was a deliberate insult to the president.

Plainly, Pelosi was saying Trump did not deserve high honor and introducing him did not constitute a privilege. When I saw it on TV, I was furious. (I was in Seoul, South Korea, watching, while Callista was in the chamber—she had a better deal.) Pelosi was displaying a mean, nasty streak worthy of seventh grade bullies in the school cafeteria.

This opening insult was doubly stupid. For people who knew the tradition, it made her look petty. For the average person, it was smothered by the wave of the standing applause the president immediately received.

After a strong speech, with many applause moments, the president was cheerfully leaving with a great success accomplished. He had a powerful speech, and he delivered it powerfully.

At this high point in the evening, Pelosi went overboard to prove she was opposed to working with Trump under any circumstances. She tore the speech up while standing at the podium!

This was the behavior of a beaten, failed speaker, who was desperately seeking approval from her left-wing fanatics. It was shocking and alienating.

The speaker of the House is the third in line to be president. It is the only legislative office mentioned in the Constitution. It is institutionally the protector of the House's prerogatives. The office has enormous power, responsibility and prestige.

Pelosi took all those historic advantages and threw them away. By her actions, she created a much stronger "replace Pelosi" movement. She also created a good case for the House to censure her for actions, which diminished and embarrassed the House of Representatives. It will be an interesting test of her marginal members if they will go home and defend her nastiness and pettiness.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has just moved a significant step closer to being speaker in 2021.

Pelosi proved Tuesday night that after failing with the Russian collusion and phony impeachment attacks, the bitterness was getting deeper, and the chances for cooperation on behalf of the country were being shredded. She made it clear she has no interest in working with the president of the United States. This position weakens the Democrats, because Americans are tired of the bickering and gridlock.

On a historic note: President George Washington came to the Congress to deliver a State of the Union and disliked his treatment by the members so much that all future State of the Union addresses were submitted in writing and read by the clerk of the House.

Not until Woodrow Wilson in 1913, over century later, was a State of the Union delivered in person by the president. It's a good thing Washington and Wilson never met Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi State of the Union
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi rips a copy of President Donald Trumps speech after he delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on February 4. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Coupling Pelosi's behavior with the collapse of Vice President Joe Biden on Monday—and Michael Bloomberg looming on the horizon—it's easy to see the Democratic Convention in Milwaukee in July is potentially going to be a divisive, bitter fight. You will see a desperate establishment fighting to keep power—and a separate, bigger fight between a billionaire and the anti-billionaires.

The fights over the platform and who gets to speak at the convention will make it a destructive two weeks for the Democrats as they further demonstrate their vitriol and incompetence.

Monday night in Iowa was bad enough, but Tuesday night was even worse for the Democrats.

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich is the chairman of Gingrich 360, the host of the Newt's World podcast and author of the New York Times best-sellers Understanding Trump and Trump's America. His latest book, Trump vs. China: Facing America's Greatest Threat, is out now.

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The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.