At long last, after delays owing to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union on Tuesday night, which predictably saw him espouse his (only occasionally fact-based) views on issues such as immigration and abortion. But it was Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker and California Democrat, who ended up stealing the show, marking the second time she’s outshone the president in less than a month, following her rebuttal of Trump’s prime-time address in January alongside Chuck Schumer.
That rebuttal did not prevent Pelosi from getting prime placement on Tuesday night, which she spent sitting directly behind the president, who was also flanked by Mike Pence. (If you’re one of the 12 percent of Americans who, according to a new poll by CNN, have never heard of him, that would be the vice president.) Thanks to the fact that both men were wearing black suits, Pelosi stood out from the very start as one of the large swath of women in the Democratic party (and, perplexingly enough, Tiffany Trump) who wore white to show solidarity for women’s suffrage.
But that was just the beginning. From there, Pelosi accessorized her white ensemble with what one Twitter user termed a “‘hell no’ look,” as well as a series of gestures that The Washington Post singled out as “exquisite shade.”
That all began when Trump got to his call for “reject[ing] the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution, and embrac[ing] the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good,” at which point Pelosi paused from unabashedly flipping through a stack of papers to join the crowd in standing and applauding the president, though in quite a different fashion than the rest: with what the Post described as “a derogatory clap, make no mistake,” in a breakdown of her move. (“Its power was in its restraint. Pelosi was not booing the president. She was acknowledging his words,” the columnist Monica Hesse continued. “This was mockery wearing a half-baked costume of politeness.”)
In other words, you couldn’t exactly miss it—and quite a few meme-making Twitter users did their best to make sure it wasn’t a moment we’d soon forget.
Within a few hours, the memes had even developed a subcategory of Photoshopped Pelosi cameos, thanks in large part to an industrious Twitter user who shared a version of the viral photo of Pelosi against a transparent background for the Internet to use as it saw fit.
Pelosi wasn’t the only one whose response got an audience. As usual, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was also singled out, this time for spending the duration of Trump’s speech looking thoroughly unamused.
This being Ocasio-Cortez, it didn’t take long for her to respond to her critics (and, of course, come out on top).