Wearing a hat presumably to cover a still-healing wound, and making his first public appearance since being attacked in his home by an unhinged, politically motivated intruder, Paul Pelosi joined wife Nancy at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington on Sunday, and was met with cheers.
As the New York Times quips, "It is not easy to upstage the stars at an event whose headliners include U2, Gladys Knight and George Clooney." But the 82-year-old Mr. Pelosi briefly did Sunday night, taking his seat with the Speaker of the House in a balcony box at the Kennedy Center Opera House. In addition to his black fedora, Pelosi was also wearing a glove on one hand, masking a second injury he endured (allegedly) at the hands of David DePape on October 28.
The Pelosis' entrance was "welcomed with a thunderous standing ovation" at the event, as the Washington Post reports. And, per CNN, President Joe Biden made a fist-bump in the direction of Pelosi from two boxes down in the same balcony area.
The Kennedy Center Honors event is arguably the most glamorous and one of the most star-studded events on the D.C. calendar, bringing together politicians, movie stars, musicians, and other members of the arts community. This year's ceremony, in addition to honoring the careers of Clooney, Knight, and U2, also paid tribute to Christian singer-songwriter Amy Grant, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Cuban American composer Tania León.
At a White House ceremony prior to the tribute event, President Biden said, "Tonight, we celebrate a truly exceptional, and this is not exaggeration, a truly exceptional group of artists – group of artists who embody the very spirit of 'we the people.' This year’s Kennedy Center honorees – they’re all an incredible group of people."
This is just the second year in the last six that has seen a U.S. president in attendance at the full ceremony and performance, and the first without strict pandemic restrictions and masking. Donald Trump opted out of attending the Kennedy Center Honors during his years in office, breaking with a decades-long tradition likely because he was afraid of being booed — but also because he doesn't attend events where he isn't the center of attention.
As Clooney put it to reporters after the event, per the Times, "there was this, I think, wonderful connection, between the arts and government," and he added that "some presidents embrace it more than others, as we’ve seen."
In his remarks, and addressing the divisions in our country, Biden tried quoting a U2 lyric (he got it mostly right), saying, "We have to remember today as their song goes – we are one, but we are not the same. We get to carry each other."
Paul Pelosi's presence was an encouraging sign for his ongoing recovery, but as Speaker Pelosi has told reporters, the damage may have been largely emotional and psychological. As Mrs. Pelosi told reporters last month, per the Post, "If he had fallen, slipped on the ice or was in an accident and hurt his head, it would be horrible, but to have it be an assault on him because they were looking for me is really — they call it ‘survivor’s guilt’ or something. But the traumatic effect on him, this happened in our house... It made our home a crime scene."
The Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast on CBS on December 28.
Top image: Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi attend the 45th Kennedy Center Honors ceremony at The Kennedy Center on December 04, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)