Ice cream and hair appointments

I guess I’m remembering the Jeni’s Ice Cream video debacle, in which Nancy Pelosi, apparently appearing on the Late, Late Show, took solace from the pandemic lockdown in an apparently very expensive brand of ice cream which is not local to San Francisco, in front of two very expensive and well-stocked freezers while people were going hungry, lining up at food banks.[1]

Now, conservatives have busted her for a hair appointment, currently forbidden under San Francisco’s pandemic rules, but of course it’s all okay because Pelosi was “set up” by a business owner resentful over pandemic restrictions actually instituted by California governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco mayor London Breed,[2] and because:

Asked about the controversy at a separate news conference, Mayor London Breed said the country had more important things to worry about than whether Pelosi had engaged in a violation of city rules.

“We have our speaker working day and night against the challenges we have at the White House,” Breed said. “It’s unfortunate this conversation has blown up in the way it has and distracted us from the real issue.”[3]

There are two problems here. First is that Pelosi has fed into authoritarian populist resentment over pandemic restrictions:

You can’t get your hair done, eat inside at a restaurant, travel, attend a funeral, or protest without mandatory quarantining. But Democrats can. This isn’t about health or science. It’s about power. Democrats want to rule your life. But don’t expect their rules to apply to them.[4]

Liz Harrington, quoted above, artfully deflects what should be resentment against the economically and politically powerful—ordinary folks would probably not have been able to arrange such a hair appointment—toward the Democrats who have long stoked that resentment by joining with Republicans in abandoning the poor, working, and middle classes.[5]

But second, Congress remains deadlocked over further economic relief from the effects of the lockdown,[6] because politicians are not the ones losing their jobs and their health care, politicians aren’t the ones wondering how they’ll pay rent or their bills.[7] A hair appointment hardly looks like “our speaker working day and night against the challenges we have at the White House.”[8] Rather, it looks a lot more like that ice cream.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Don’t just say #COVIDIOTS,” Not Housebroken, April 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/19/dont-just-say-covidiots/
  2. [2]Tal Kopan and Rachel Swan, “Nancy Pelosi calls salon visit a ‘setup,’ refuses to apologize,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Speaker-Pelosi-calls-salon-visit-a-set-up-15538247.php
  3. [3]Tal Kopan and Rachel Swan, “Nancy Pelosi calls salon visit a ‘setup,’ refuses to apologize,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Speaker-Pelosi-calls-salon-visit-a-set-up-15538247.php
  4. [4]Liz Harrington, quoted in Tal Kopan and Rachel Swan, “Nancy Pelosi calls salon visit a ‘setup,’ refuses to apologize,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Speaker-Pelosi-calls-salon-visit-a-set-up-15538247.php
  5. [5]Neil Barofsky, Bailout (New York: Free, 2012); Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter With Kansas? (New York: Metropolitan, 2004); Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire (New York: Metropolitan, 2012); Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010).
  6. [6]Marianne Levine, “Schumer rips ’emaciated’ Republican coronavirus relief plan,” Politico, September 3, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/03/coronavirus-relief-plan-chuck-schumer-407974
  7. [7]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, August 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/
  8. [8]London Breed, quoted in Tal Kopan and Rachel Swan, “Nancy Pelosi calls salon visit a ‘setup,’ refuses to apologize,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Speaker-Pelosi-calls-salon-visit-a-set-up-15538247.php

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