Let them eat hair dryers.
By now, I’m assuming you’ve heard about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s very costly (at least in terms of political credibility) excursion to the hair salon this week. The California Democrat visited eSalon SF in her home city of San Francisco on Monday for a wash and blowout even though salons weren’t supposed to open in the city until Tuesday, and only then for outdoor service.
Her excuse: The salon set her up.
“I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I have been to many times,” Pelosi said when asked about the excursion Wednesday, according to Fox News. “When they said they could accommodate people one at a time, and we can set up that time, I trusted that.”
“As it turns out, it was a setup. So I take responsibility for falling for a setup,” she added. “The salon owes me an apology for setting me up.”
Setup or not — the salon owner vehemently denied it — this hasn’t been a particularly good week for Pelosi, image-wise. (Her hair looks nice, though.)
It got worse on Thursday when White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany subjected reporters to the security footage showing Pelosi at ESalonSF on a loop.
This was cleverer than you might have thought, however.
Yes, it’s easy to dunk on the House speaker right now, so easy this might have felt like running up the score. As it played, McEnany recontextualized just why Pelosi’s act should have outraged you.
“Today, I can announce: We have found Nancy Pelosi. As you can see, we found Nancy Pelosi going into her hair salon,” she said. “We will be playing the video on loop for all of you to see during the duration of this introduction.
“Nancy Pelosi was not in the halls of Congress when I asked where she was. She was not working in good faith to make a deal for the American people. Nope.
“Nancy Pelosi was found in San Francisco, at a hair salon, where she was indoors, even though salons in California are not — only open for outdoor service.” (This refers specifically to San Francisco, where hair salons only opened on Tuesday, and then for outdoor service; other counties were recently given the green light to reopen salons.)
“Apparently, the rules do not apply to Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” McEnany continued. “She wants small businesses to stay shut down but only reopen for her convenience. ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ says Nancy Pelosi.
“Nancy Pelosi is holding up $1.3 trillion in relief for the American people while getting special access to the very kind of small businesses that this money would support, businesses like this hair salon.
“Before she skipped town to violate her state’s health guidelines, Pelosi proposed a bill. It was called the HEROES Act, which contained no additional Paycheck Protection funding. This is funding that would help the very small business she has bizarrely accused of plotting against her.”
She went on to point out that Pelosi is pursuing legal threats and shaming the owner for the “setup.”
McEnany then read out the words of eSalon SF owner Erica Kious: “Since this happened, I have received nothing but hate text messages, death threats, saying they’re going to burn down my hair salon. It’s just sad that my community is pulling this, saying that I threw her under the bus when I did not. So that’s hurtful. But, yes, I think I’m pretty much done now.”
“Nancy Pelosi, you ought to apologize to the American people, or better yet, come back to Washington and get to work for hardworking Americans like this salon owner that you maligned and demanded an apology from,” she said.
And with that, she opened the floor up for questioning. I suppose she could have kept the footage on a loop, but that definitely would have been running up the score.
Here’s why this was both effective and clever: The standard narrative on Pelosi’s excursion to the hair salon is that it was either a setup (if you’re on the left) or a Marie Antoinette moment (if you’re on the right). I couldn’t even resist the urge to reference it at the top of the story. McEnany does to by referencing the elitist’s “do as I say, not as I do” position.
In fact, she could have even pointed out that, two hours after her salon visit, Pelosi appeared on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” to complain about, of all things, President Donald Trump’s mask-less Republican National Convention acceptance speech crowd.
“What further evidence does anyone need that this president doesn’t care less about the spread of this virus than to see what he did?” Pelosi said. “Bringing all those people there, no masks, no distancing, and the rest. He slapped science right in the face.”
Pelosi was, of course, wearing no mask during her wash and blowout in a salon she wasn’t supposed to be inside due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I just had my hair washed. I don’t wear my mask when I’m washing my hair,” she told reporters Wednesday. “Do you wear one when you wash your hair?”
Getting our hair washed in a salon, though? This isn’t in the shower. We’re all wearing masks in places we didn’t think we would be, Madame Speaker. You’re just slapping science in the face now.
But I digress. It wasn’t that she was in a salon, it was that she was in a salon in San Francisco. For most of the House of Representatives, this was what was known as a district work period, recesses when legislators either vacation or go back to their district for meetings with staff, constituents and other local figures.
Pelosi, however, is the House speaker. Her main priority at the moment should be bridging the gap between the House and the Senate on COVID-19 relief packages. She wasn’t doing that. Instead, she was back in San Francisco, making cable news appearances and, yes, getting her hair done.
Meanwhile, the ones who are suffering are those like Erica Kious, the salon owner she’s now trying to ruin. After all, the House Democrats’ bill doesn’t want to put more money into the Paycheck Protection Program, but merely to extend the period covered and repeal the requirement that 75 percent of the money received be spent on payroll, among other things.
Being re-elevated to House speaker was the career-capper Nancy Pelosi had always wanted. With that power comes responsibilities — and those responsibilities didn’t involve her being in California. Especially not getting her hair done, of course.
But the important part was being back in Washington.
The fact that she wasn’t should destroy whatever credibility she still has left when it comes to l’affaire eSalon SF.
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