Not only will President Trump address the nation tonight about his definition of a crisis on the southern border, but he will be opening the door to a rebuttal from the Democrats. When Allahpundit discussed the Democrats’ efforts to block the networks from broadcasting tonight’s speech, he speculated that the Dems would want to get in on the action, but who would deliver the rebuttal remains something of an open question. By the time the virtual ink had dried on that article, all of the news networks had said they would carry the speech.
With that detail out of the way, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi “pounced” almost immediately, demanding equal time for a rebuttal. (Washington Times)
Democratic leaders on Monday asked the broadcast networks for equal airtime to counter President Trump’s planned immigration speech Tuesday, saying it’s only fair they get a chance to counter his “malice and misinformation.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer signaled disappointment with the networks’ decisions to grant the president a slot at 9 p.m. Tuesday for a brief address to the nation, and again blamed him for the partial government shutdown that’s now in its third week.
“Now that the television networks have decided to air the President’s address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime,” they said in a joint statement.
The minority party is usually granted time after major addressed such as a state of the union speech, though reactions to short presidential addresses to the nation are usually less structured.
This “demand” isn’t much more than a formality at this point. Obviously, the networks can’t stop the Democrats from delivering a rebuttal. The only question is if they will air it and, if so, how much of it they will carry. We can expect the President to make a fairly lengthy speech, at least twenty minutes to a half hour… possibly even longer. Rebuttals tend to be shorter than that, so things could get rather long-winded if the Dems want to suck up the full measure of time that Trump takes up.
But is anyone actually worried that the networks wouldn’t roll out the red carpet for the Democrats? CNN has spent the entire morning talking about the President’s “crisis of credibility” and actually predicting that what lies he will supposedly deliver before they’ve even seen the speech. Of course they’ll let the Democrats drone on for as long as they like in the interest of fairness.
All that really leaves us with is the same question Allahpundit posed yesterday. Who gets to do the honors? The base will be pushing for one of their new “superstars” like AOC, Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib. There are two problems with that plan, however. First of all, being given the chance to offer a rebuttal to the President is a major honor, so allowing any of the greenhorns to do it will be a big slap in the face to those with more seniority. Then there’s the question of how well they can pull it off. If you put AOC at the lectern there’s no telling if she’ll stick to the script they hand her or start freestyling with some of her fact-free flights of fancy. If you hand it off to Tlaib you might wind up with some MFer bombs tossed in to spice up the message during prime time. Neither is desirable.
AP suggested that none of the likely POTUS primary candidates would get the gig because that might make the networks look too partisan by airing it. I’m not sure that’s going to be a factor, though. First of all, aside from Fox, I doubt any of them care if they come off looking like Democrat cheerleaders. They make that pretty obvious every day anyway. The real problem here isn’t for the networks, but for the DNC. If they let Kamala Harris do it (for example) then all the other contenders will scream that they’re putting their finger on the scale again as they did for Hillary in 2016.
In the end, the Democrats should (and probably will) play it safe and let Pelosi do it. She’s got the experience and the standing in the party to merit the job and she’s less likely to screw it up.