Lawmakers planned an in-person group dinner on Saturday night, but extreme backlash to the idea changed their plans. Both Democrats and Republicans elected to the House of Representatives in the 2020 presidential election planned indoor dinners for their new members in Washington, D.C., according to NBC News correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell. After Caldwell posted a picture of the Democrats' arrangement on Twitter, many Americans condemned the event due to the coronavirus pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Caldwell that the Capitol physician signed off on the dinner arrangements, adding: "it's very spaced." Caldwell took a picture of tables laid out six feet apart in a lavish hall, formally arranged with centerpieces and tablecloths, and with ornate statues looking down on them. Throughout Friday afternoon, Caldwell's tweet went viral, with over 20,000 quote-tweets, most of which were derisive at best. Within hours, Pelosi's spokesperson, Drew Hammill, announced that the in-person event had been canceled.
House Dem and GOP leaders are holding respective dinners for new members.November 13, 2020
"Members-elect are now picking up their boxed meals and departing the Capitol. There is no group dinner," Hammill wrote.
This, too, got some sardonic responses, though some followers thanked Hammill and the Democrats for owning up to the mistake. Others thought that the idea of the dinner in the first place was a sign of hypocrisy, considering how hard Democrats criticize President Donald Trump for failing to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. Here is a look at how Twitter responded to House Democrats' formal dinner plans this weekend.
No Thanksgiving for us peasants through.... https://t.co/sTJjb8Yoa4— Rob (@_ROB_29) November 14, 2020
Yet you’re not allowed to have thanksgiving or go out to eat, or work.
Feeling played yet?? https://t.co/jPvevA1o33— Megan (@megmarie422) November 14, 2020
One of the first things that came to mind for many users who saw Caldwell's picture was their own Thanksgiving plans, which have either been changed or altered beyond recognition. In general, the Democrats have joined public health officials in advising Americans not to hold Thanksgiving celebrations in large groups this year.prevnext
We need to have a conversation about messaging. https://t.co/qfhsOWQ4Kq— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) November 14, 2020
It’s easy for me to believe this follows the proper medical protocol, but that’s not the point.
It’s the optics of doing this at a time when there’s still so much disinformation and confusion about COVID, when each day is a record for new cases.
Not a great example to set. https://t.co/OQclXkevw3— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) November 13, 2020
While Pelosi told reporters that the dinner was approved by doctors and was expertly ventilated, many critics thought she was missing the point. The dinner still exemplified the resources Pelosi had access to that her constituents did not, which would look bad from a political standpoint if nothing else.prevnext
It's so frustrating that you can't just own up to what you guys were trying to pull. Yeah, they were already in DC, we know, and you messed up. Please own up to it.— Stacy Marie Davis (@stacyosterman) November 14, 2020
Many also had harsh responses for Hammill when he announced that the dinner had been canceled, feeling that he was intentionally avoiding an apology or other address of their grievances.prevnext
I don't understand this. A large, indoor party or dinner is not a good idea right now, per many public health officials and the government's leading coronavirus experts, as coronavirus cases surge to record highs. (Just as a White House election night party was not a good idea.) https://t.co/uKb3NAemoD— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 13, 2020
Political posturing aside, many were confused that Pelosi and her colleagues would consent to this kind of dinner, since they seem to understand the risks of being infected with COVID-19, unlike their political rivals who sometimes deny the severity of the virus.prevnext
Thank you. https://t.co/2WsxMcVZBW— isthisthingon (@SukiFrench) November 14, 2020
Some thanked Hammill and Pelosi, genuinely, though not always warmly, for changing based on their criticism. A few remarked that this was at least a step better than the Trump administration, which continues to hold in-person events in spite of the public outcry and against the advice of public health officials.prevnext
The power of the Ratio https://t.co/MbVM86OFph— YesThatShoe (@the_shoe_yes) November 14, 2020
Okay that's so much better. Ridiculous that they needed outrage to modify their plans but at least they did. https://t.co/fUUMM4mzvz— Paul #WearAMask #AbolishThePolice #BLM Roth (@paulidin) November 14, 2020
Many Twitter users congratulated themselves and each other for driving Pelosi to change her plans for the event. They guessed that without public outcry, Pelosi would neither have changed the event nor confronted the contradiction if presented.prevnext
Quick! Tell them to back medicare for all!— James D'Amato (@OneShotRPG) November 14, 2020
Finally, seeing how quickly the plans for this dinner changed based on public pressure, some users joked about using that leverage for other aspects of their agenda as well — including public policies they want Pelosi to endorse.prev