One of the more dramatic visuals from Donald Trump's latest State of the Union address came at the end, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, clearly disgusted with the president's display, tore a copy of Trump's remarks in half.
The president's Republican allies, pretending to care a great deal about decorum -- an ironic point of concern given Trump's antics -- have been quick to condemn Pelosi's gesture as somehow inappropriate. The president himself seems to care more about the Democratic leader's display than the content of his remarks.
But it was a member of the president's cabinet who decided to mock the House Speaker with a single image he promoted via social media.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an apparent swipe at Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on Tuesday night tweeted an image from "The Simpsons" of Lisa Simpson tearfully ripping up a sheet of paper.The tweet came after Pelosi tore up her copy of President Trump's State of the Union speech immediately after he finished addressing a joint session of Congress. Pelosi later told reporters it was "the courteous thing to do given the alternative."
If you haven't seen the tweet, it's entirely straightforward: Pompeo highlighted an image of Lisa Simpson, sobbing and tearing up a piece of paper. The point, evidently, was for the nation's chief diplomat to compare the House Speaker to a dejected second grader.
But for those of us who actually know The Simpsons well, Pompeo may not have fully appreciated the point he was inadvertently making.
The image the cabinet secretary promoted came from a 1991 episode called, "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington." In it, Lisa, inspired after a trip to Springfield Forest, writes an essay on American greatness. Her work, "The Roots of Democracy," was so well received that she qualified for a trip to Washington, D.C.
While in the nation's capital, however, she overheard a lobbyist paying a bribe to a congressman for the rights to tear down Springfield Forest. Heartbroken, Lisa tears up her essay, replacing it with a new one: "Cesspool on the Potomac." She tells the essay-contest judges, "The city of Washington was built on a stagnant swamp some 200 years ago, and very little has changed. It stank then and it stinks now -- only today it is the fetid stench of corruption that hangs in the air."
In other words, the image Pompeo saw as apt was symbolic of disillusionment in the face of corruption. The image showed a patriot, eager to see the best in her country, disgusted by those who fail to honor the nation's highest ideals.
If Pompeo sees a parallel between Nancy Pelosi last night and Lisa Simpson's shattered faith from that episode, the Speaker should probably see that as a compliment.
As for how the episode ended, the corrupt politician Lisa saw -- the one who caused her to tear up the paper in front of her -- ended up arrested.
It seemed worth mentioning for context.