Nancy Pelosi tore up a copy of Trump’s State of the Union Speech in a night of high drama, which began with Trump refusing to shake the Speaker’s hand. Who won the battle of persuasion?

First some principles of memory and persuasion:

  • Recency wins the memory wars.
  • Conflict is attention.
  • Attention is influence.
  • People need a “fake because” to resolve cognitive dissonance.

Overlooked in persuasion is memory. What people remember is what they find most persuasive. Read Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions by Carmen Simon.

By ripping the pages up in at the end of the speech, Pelosi won the memory battle. This was a huge win for her.

Conflict is attention. Let Dana White explain this maxim of persuasion:

  • “If you take four street corners, and on one they are playing baseball, on another they are playing basketball and on the other, street hockey, on the fourth corner, a fight breaks out. Where does the crowd go? They all go to the fight.”

Everyone will stop whatever they are doing to watch a fight. Pelosi started a fight. We are watching. Which brings us to one of the most well-studied principles of persuasion.

Attention is influence.  Whatever you pay attention to is what you consider to be important. Focus on a health problem and you’ll imagine you’re going to die.

Who you pay the most attention to is who you consider to be important.  Read Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert B. Cialdini.

Pelosi won the attention war.


People need a “fake because” to resolve cognitive dissonance. Imagine you hate Trump. He’s vulgar. He’s selfish. He puts himself above the grand old institutions of this nation. You can’t bring yourself to vote for him.

And then you look at your 401k, you see the economy is booming, you see terrorists being destroyed.

You want to vote for him, but you can’t bring yourself to do it. Your image of yourself as a good person (and good people don’t vote for Trump) conflicts with the objectively good results Trump has obtained.

What do you do?

During the State of the Union Speech, a time to bring the country together for respect for the House, Senate, Court, and Presidency, Pelosi makes mean nasty faces. She refuses to stand to honor great African American war heroes, and current war heroes.

And then, and then….

And then Pelosi rips up the State of the Union Speech, shredding any legitimacy she has.

You now have what Scott Adams calls your fake because. (Read Loserthink by Scott Adams.)

There are no democratic norms! There is no decency! Everyone is bad!

Pelosi gave you and millions of people a reason to vote for Trump.

9 Replies to “Did Nancy Pelosi Give Trump a 2020 Win?”

  1. I don’t care what side of the aisle you are on, we should all stand and cheer for our Americans who fought in World War II, for the parents who lost their daughter to terrorists, for the 4th grader who received a scholarship, and for all other great Americans.

    I don’t understand the calculus behind not honoring good people.

    To then tear up the speech is extremely disrespectful to those Americans who were honored.


    1. “…the parents who lost their daughter to terrorists…” / What about the hundreds of thousands who have lost their daughters, their sons, their parents, nephews, children, babies… to American drones and dirty little wars through the ages?

      1. You mean like Obama did?
        The idea that because some wars the US was involved in were unjust means we can never honor a war hero makes no sense, not to mention our entire involvement in fighting against Nazi fascism was just.

      2. Marcus – while all of what you mention is undeniably tragic, take note of what you chose to focus on and what Sam chose to focus on.

        I am not defending any of the negative stuff that happens and which the US can be blamed for.

        But we have to focus on the positive if we are going to maintain our sanity and health, while also not being ignorant to the negative so that we can learn from it and improve.

    2. Sam you are a 110% correct. What a horrible example we are giving to our future generations by showing such disrespect and childish pouting behavior if we don’t get our way in life. We need to feeling pride in our country of the United States not resentment for each other shame on us. 😢

  2. Mike,
    Chris Plante did a great job pointing out that Pelosi drew first blood again, by not introducing President Trump as precedence and history required. Pelosi decided to insult President Trump at the jump

  3. I was about to mention that last fact which surely was first blood, not necessarily relevant to Mikes article but certainly more disgrace to her.

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