“Nothing says seriousness and sobriety,” Mitch McConnell quipped, “like handing out souvenirs as though this were a happy bill signing instead of the gravest process in our Constitution.” In this case, however, the Senate Majority Leader wasn’t alone in pointing out the celebratory nature of Nancy Pelosi’s supposed “solemn” moment. Fox News captures the moments where the House Speaker makes sure all her colleagues get their Officially Licensed Impeachment Engrossment Pens, smiling for the cameras the whole time:
Just how seriously is Pelosi taking this “solemn” moment? She’s literally signing her name one letter at a time per pen in order to generate as many souvenirs as possible. In between, she laughingly quips about how many pens she’s using, and at the end starts passing them out to other House Democrats. A few of them are also smiling, but a couple of them cast furtive glances at the cameras while trying to look as though they believe Pelosi’s claim of this being “solemn.”
Don’t miss the “solemn” pose with Rep. Carolyn Maloney at the end, too, when both flash toothy grins to the press photographers covering the event. The only possible way this could have been more “solemn” was if Pelosi was taking a smartphone selfie. Say “cheese!”
The fact that this resembled a partisan football-spiking more than a solemn obligation was not lost even on the CNN panel covering the event. After Wolf Blitzer noted the historical nature of the impeachment, Dana Bash called Pelosi’s cheery souvenir production “unusual. Nia-Malika Henderson went further, proclaiming the moment “jarring” and “off-message”:
BASH: That’s right, and it is ceremonial. The one thing I will say, and as we were watching it, we are used to seeing signing ceremonies, handing out pens at moments of celebration when a president is signing is legislation. When — even sometimes, you know, rare occasion but has happened, when the House sends over a landmark piece of legislation.
It was — it was unusual to see that kind of ceremony and making — you know, handing out the pens and smiling for a picture in this kind of situation where the House Speaker has bent over backward to say, publicly and privately, this is somber, this is not a time for celebration. Understandable. This is history and the people who were involved to mark the moment, but I did not expect to see it.
HENDERSON: Yes. I thought that was a little jarring and certainly, I think, off message. Because you heard Nancy Pelosi there say, in fact, that this was a sad and tragic day, and then there she is holding up the pen and having photographs taken with those pens.
So, yes, it — I think it was a little off message for someone who has tried to set a very serious tone, and here she is, posing for photographs with the pen. So probably not the best decision (ph).
McConnell ridiculed the moment this morning on the Senate floor, noting that the souvenirs were “gold pens on silver platters.” Just how can we take this seriously, after their professions of sobriety and solemnity, McConnell asked, when “this final display neatly distilled the House’s entire partisan process into one perfect visual”?
It was a transparently partisan performance from beginning to end. That’s why they sped through a slapdash inquiry in 12 weeks when previous presidential impeachments came after months if not years of investigation and hearings.
That’s why the House cut short their own inquiry, declined to pursue their own subpoenas, and denied the president due process — but now want the Senate to re-do their homework and re-run the investigation.
That’s why our colleague the Democratic Leader told the press that whatever happens next, as long as he can weaponize the trial to hurt Republicans in the 2020 election, quote, “it’s a win-win.” And that’s why the Speaker of the House apparently saw nothing strange about celebrating the third presidential impeachment in American history with souvenirs and posed photographs.
That about sums it up. That’s what this process has been thus far. But it is not what this process will be going forward.
At least they all got the pens, however.