Put your hands together for Nancy Pelosi!
But first, a brief history of applause. Clapping our hands is a human social gesture — born thousands of years ago — to show approval and admiration. While there is the polite golf clap for a well-struck shot, nearly all other types of applause come from the heart when we’re inspired or moved or blown away.
And throughout history, one thing has always been taboo (if unspoken): never ask for applause. You either earn it or you don’t. But you just can’t be beggy.
Pelosi, the 82-year-old Speaker of the House, certainly knows that rule. A career politician, she’s delivered a zillion speeches, both in arenas and backyard fundraisers.
Which makes it hilarious that when she dropped by to hang out with a younger man, merely a septuagenarian, to deliver what amounted to a campaign endorsement, she begged the crowd to put their hands together for President Joe Biden.
Having covered hundreds of events at the White House as a reporter, I know one thing: They’re almost always boring. For every press conference or impromptu exchange with the president, there are a dozen bill signings, commemorations for this or that, and background briefings with bloviating bureaucrats.
Those latter events, though, always include a slew of cheerleaders. After all, they’ve been invited to the White House by the president, likely for their support on an issue or piece of legislation.
But on Tuesday, Pelosi was able to bore even those hardcore fans to tears.
Speaking at a White House event celebrating the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, Pelosi piled praise on the president. Appearing alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Pelosi said the “landmark” law is “driving down costs for kitchen table items for America’s working families.”
“Mr. President, thank you for unifying and inspiring a vision of a stronger, fairer, safer future for all, for our children,” she said. “Your extraordinary leadership has made this glorious day possible.”
Then, silence. No one moved a muscle. Amid the deafening void, Pelosi declared: “That’s an applause line.” While no one felt inspired or moved or blown away, they dutifully applauded, giving the speaker a courtesy clap.
NOW – Pelosi: “Mr. President … your extraordinary leadership has made this glorious day possible. I — That’s an applause line.”pic.twitter.com/srZXtf0MZC
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) September 13, 2022
That’s how little jam Biden has these days. Even with a handpicked crowd of flattering fawners — fired up by the third-most powerful person in government — he couldn’t even get a decent round of applause.
It wasn’t the first time a politician had to beg for a courtesy clap. Back in 2016, when former Florida governor Jeb Bush was running for the Republican presidential nomination, he made a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
Wearing a brown pullover and speaking to a sedate group of white people in a subdued town hall, Bush droned on and on.
The candidate had just finished sixth in the Iowa caucuses with about 3% of the vote, and he was on a last-ditch mission to save his campaign.
“I will not trash talk. I will not be a divider in chief or an agitator in chief. I won’t be out there blowharding, talking a big game without backing it up. I think the next president needs to be a lot quieter but send a signal that we’re prepared to act in the national security interests of this country — to get back in the business of creating a more peaceful world,” Bush declared to the crowd.
A pretty fiery bit of rhetoric, right? But nothing. Stony silence. Many of the room looked away, others had that glassy gleam in their eyes that signified they just weren’t listening.
“Please clap,” Bush begged. The crowd laughed and clapped, but it was clear Bush — whose campaign yard signs said simply “Jeb!” — had no jam.
The scene prompted then-candidate Donald Trump to dub Bush “low-energy Jeb.” And “please clap” became emblematic of a weak campaign — he tried to whip the crowd up with an inspirational speech about what kind of leader he is, then had to ask for applause.
Jeb! came in fourth in the New Hampshire GOP primary behind Trump, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. He survived to try again in South Carolina, where he got just 8% of the vote — then dropped out of the race, never to be heard from again.
Pelosi’s own “please clap” moment may mean nothing. She often garbles her speeches these days, emphasizing odd words and misspeaking. And perhaps the crowd just wasn’t listening.
But the scene could also mean much more. Even a roomful of supporters were not moved to applaud effusive praise for a president whose approval ratings are in the dumper. When no one seems inspired or moved or blown away, it could signal a much deeper problem.
Just ask Jeb!
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.