Apparently in the era of Trump, the traditional invitation by the Speaker of the House to the President to give the State of the Union address is no longer a sure thing.
House Democrats on Wednesday were making plans to undermine President Trump at his Jan. 29 State of the Union address. Just past 8:30 a.m., the leadership’s communications arm sent an email to lawmakers urging them to bring furloughed federal workers or other “message-related” guests to the nationally televised event.
Unknown to most of her caucus, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had decided on a more confrontational approach.
Addressing a closed-door meeting of House Democrats, the speaker read a letter she had just sent to Trump asking him to either postpone the speech until the federal government reopens or deliver the text in writing, citing security concerns.
Surprised Democratic lawmakers cheered their leader’s rationale: If the government stays shut down, Pelosi would deprive Trump of the spotlight he craves. To a president especially sensitive to acts of disrespect — and one with a hearty appetite for pomp and circumstance — the so-called unvitation was not merely a power play. It was a calculated personal slight.
In the two weeks since she reclaimed the speaker’s gavel, Pelosi has moved aggressively to leverage her decades of congressional experience to needle, belittle and undercut Trump with swipes at his competence and even his masculinity.
The two leaders are locked in a standoff over a partial government shutdown instigated by Trump’s demand that U.S. taxpayers fund a portion of his promised border wall. Both Trump and Pelosi are gambling that the other will bear the brunt of the blame as the economic impact worsens, with the shutdown now dragging on for nearly a month.
But Pelosi’s challenge to Trump also comes with a degree of risk, for her and for Democrats. The more she becomes the face of Trump’s opposition, the more Republicans will probably use her unpopularity nationally to label vulnerable House Democrats as Pelosi clones — a potentially potent line of attack against sitting lawmakers who cast votes in lock-step with party leaders.
Still, with a self-declared mandate to provide a check on the president’s power, Pelosi is helping to keep Democrats largely united while energizing liberals who have yearned for a leader to challenge Trump directly.
This is what America elected Democrats to be a check on, and Nancy Pelosi is not shy at all about using the powers granted to her by the US Constitution to act as that check and that balance on Trump. Good for her.
Besides, I have no intention of watching any Trump State of the Union, or any Trump speech, unless he's resigning. Still, no doubt that Trump will be furious, and that's exactly what he deserves.