Democrats exercise the art of dissent in subtle ways

(AP) -- They didn't heckle. There were no in-your-face pink "pussyhats." There were just a few no-shows.

At President Donald Trump's first address to Congress on Tuesday, Democrats stuck with more muted ways of exercising the art of the dis.

They turned their thumbs down. They maintained stone faces. They sat on their hands.

They laughed out loud when Trump declared it was time to "drain the swamp."

There were audible groans when he announced a new office for victims of crimes committed by immigrants.

As Trump strode down the center aisle of the House chamber to make his big entrance, some drew back to avoid shaking his hand.

There were even a few empty seats on the Democratic side of the aisle.

Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat who's hugged the center aisle seat for 29 years of speechmaking by presidents of both parties, took a pass on an aisle seat this year - and made a point of announcing it.

Democratic women from the House sent a sartorial message, but nothing as edgy as the pussyhats that dominated at the Women's March on Washington on the day after Trump's inauguration.

Instead, they wore suffragists' white on Tuesday night to put a spotlight on women's issues. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi drew the direct contrast to Trump, tweeting that those in white were supporting women's rights "in spite of a @POTUS who doesn't!"

A number of Democratic senators and House members made a political statement with the guests they invited to sit in the galleries for the speech, selecting people negatively affected by Trump's exclusionary immigration policies and who have depended on the health care law he opposes.

Trump, too, was on good behavior for the evening, exercising unusual restraint.

He did get in a subtle dig by pointing in the Democrats' direction when he declared the "time for trivial fights is behind us."


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