On Tuesday night, after the president’s rote speech on the border shutdown, news networks gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer the opportunity to comment. But no one from Democratic leadership gave Pelosi and Schumer the opportunity to stand a reasonable distance from each other.
Crowded at a small podium at the speaker’s balcony in the U.S. Capitol building, Schumer and Pelosi stood with shoulders overlapping and condemned the shutdown over the border as a dangerous political exercise. “This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration,” said Schumer. “We can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security,” added Pelosi. “The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.”
The messaging from the leading Democrats was sound, if a little boilerplate — the equal and opposite reaction to the president’s non-eventful shutdown comments, except from two people who know how to read a teleprompter. But for some on Twitter, the pair’s stern body language and “we’re your parents, not your friends” stare into the camera activated the memory of childhood groundings: those serious chats when your parents presented a unified front, and scolded you for throwing rocks at another kid, or withholding pay for some 800,000 federal workers.
Others noticed the similarity between the pair of congressional leaders and iconic couples in art and media. It’s amazing what a small piece of furniture can do to establish a comedic setting.