“Oh yes that clap took me back to the teen years.”
Pelosi, clad in a white pantsuit in solidarity with fellow Democrat women making a statement about women’s rights, stared down at Trump with a savage sarcasm in her eyes, clapping pointedly in his face.
She wasn’t clapping for him, she was clapping at him, many noted. Social media users jumped on the moment, immediately dubbing it the “f**k you clap”. “This is her house,” one twitter user wrote. “And Trump is an undocumented guest.”
And according to her daughter Christine Pelosi, the House Speaker has been channeling her powerful sarcastic energy into clapping for years.
On Twitter, the Democratic party strategist shared that the image of her mother’s savage applause brought her right “back to the teen years.”
We can already imagine the scenarios in which Pelosi would have employed this clap against her five children. Maybe one of them was talking themselves up needlessly, and Pelosi wanted to bring them back down to size. Or maybe one of them deigned to clean up their room and proceeded to brag about it. That kind of moment is a prime candidate for a clap that simultaneously conveys disdain and despair.
But according to Pelosi herself, the clap was anything but pointed.
The applause was prompted by Trump’s comments during his address on the need for bipartisan unity. As the president said: “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.”
“It wasn’t sarcastic,” Pelosi told People on Wednesday. “Look at what I was applauding. I wanted him to know that it was very welcomed.”
Speaking to People, the photographer who captured the now-viral image affirmed that Pelosi was sending her applause directly to the president. “I had a unique angle and was able to put Speaker Pelosi right over the president’s shoulder,” photographer Doug Mills said.
“It was a clap that was gestured right towards him [Trump],” Mills added. “And he looked back to get her reaction. It’s not a moment you usually see in the middle of a State of the Union address. There’s not usually a lot of interaction between the president and the speaker.”
Mills doesn’t believe that Pelosi’s clap was a ‘f**k you’ clap at all, but rather a recognition of the power of the president’s words. “A lot of people say it’s the ‘f**k you’ clap, but I didn’t feel that as it happened,” he said. “I saw it as her responding to the call for common ground and saying to him, ‘OK, this is on you. It starts with you. I’m clapping to you. You’re saying it, but you’re also the one who has to follow through.’”
You know how the saying goes, though. A ‘f**k you’ clap by any other name is still as savage.