I’m surprised. She’s going to offer him a platform while border negotiations in Congress are ongoing, huh?
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) January 28, 2019
Maybe she thinks it’s wiser to have him speak while the outcome of those negotiations is still in doubt than to wait until after they’ve fallen apart. So long as there’s a bare glimmer of hope that Democrats will give him money for the wall he’ll have to pull his punches at them. There’d be no reason to hold back if all hope had evaporated.
What about tomorrow, though? He made clear last week after President Pelosi vetoed his attempt to address Congress that he’d postpone “the” State of the Union to a later date. But nothing’s stopping him from delivering a speech this Tuesday evening, when the SOTU was originally scheduled, on a subject of his choosing. Why not hold a MAGA rally somewhere and do a little cheerleading for border security? The dopey media has spent the past 72 hours assuring its audience that Trump might be in danger of “losing his base.” Throw together an impromptu speech, announce a trip to red-state America, and show them how wrong they are with an address to an audience of 10,000 adoring Trumpers. Make the case publicly once again that the country needs a wall just as Democrats and Republicans in Congress are about to sit down to start hashing out money for the border.
He could use it as a chance to try to win back some of the (few) righties who are mad at him right now too. Run through his accomplishments in office. He promised you great judges, didn’t he? He promised you a trade war to try to rebuild America’s manufacturing base. How’s he doing on those promises? As Kurt Schlichter put it in his op-ed this past weekend, “Gee, I Guess Now I’m Going To Have To Be Happy With Only 90% Of The Stuff I Wanted Trump To Do.”
Instead, via CNN:
President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address will not take place on Tuesday, an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN.
The aide confirmed that the address, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, will not happen — answering a key question about the address’s fate in the wake of the reopening of the federal government…
Trump’s director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp said Monday that the White House has been in discussions with Pelosi’s office about rescheduling the address and that “we should have a response soon.”
Here’s another option, one even more in keeping with Trump-y bravado and norm-busting than a MAGA rally would be” Say “to hell with the State of the Union” altogether. Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels made the case for that in an op-ed in WaPo this weekend:
The throne speech temptation proved irresistible to skilled stage managers in the TV era. It was the Reagan White House, predictably, given its Hollywood roots, that took the speech even further from the printed word and the mere “information of the State of the Union” stipulated by the Constitution. The positioning in the balcony of Lenny Skutnik, an authentic hero of the 1982 Air Florida crash into the 14th Street bridge in Washington, set a trend that reached its ad absurdum status when President Barack Obama mentioned by name four of his more than 20 guests during his 2015 address.
After President Ronald Reagan’s innovation, it dawned on everyone involved that the supporting cast need not be confined to the balconies. Members of Congress got in the act, on both sides of the aisle. Effusive, cued applause, camera-conscious backslapping, stony-faced growls of disapproval and eventually even catcalls from America’s lawmakers have drained what little was left of a serious tutorial about national challenges and priorities. What remains: a tired, farcical theatrical experience more likely to promote cynicism than citizenship in its viewers.
Absolutely. The two most loathsome televised traditions of “official Washington” are the State of the Union and the White House Correspondents Dinner. Trump’s already chosen to boycott the latter in protest of what he regards as unfair treatment by the media. He could complete the circle by boycotting the former too. It’d be completely on-brand — the last thing a populist hellraiser should do is mindlessly extend terrible Beltway traditions, and he could tie it directly to Pelosi’s imperiousness in denying him a platform after she’d already invited him on the 29th. Do a speech from the White House instead, or from a rally. Do a live Q&A with the public on Instagram with a White House aide moderating the questions. There are a million possibilities.
But … none of those possibilities will net him a TV audience of 40+ million people. Asking Donald Trump to give up a crowd like that is like asking Gollum to give up the Ring. Besides, he’d be doing Democrats a (minor) favor by ending the speech for good. The president gets one hour per year to tout his accomplishments and criticize the other party with the leader of that party sitting right there on camera with him, unable to respond. You think Pelosi would care if Trump angrily replied to her veto, “No more SOTUs, then!”?
What I can’t figure out, though, is why he’d let her have the last word about tomorrow, especially after he finally gave in on the shutdown on Friday. He’s taken enough of a beating for getting outmaneuvered that, you would think, he’d be eager to re-assert himself at the first opportunity. Tomorrow is the first opportunity. It’s SOTU Day, or it’s supposed to be. Why not make it happen?