Donald Trump called Nancy Pelosi’s bluff and she chose the worst possible response. Trump told her he accepted the previous invitation to speak before a joint session of congress. He explained that her concerns about security had been refuted by both public and private statements by the Director of Homeland Security and the Secret Service.
This left Pelosi with only two options. She could let Trump speak and suffer the embarrassment of having to introduce him as President of the United States. Or she could refuse to let him speak, showing herself to be hopelessly partisan and tone-deaf. She chose to disinvite Trump. That, of course, will not stop Trump from delivering a State of the Union address; it will only guarantee him a world record audience.
When you think about it, the State of the Union address was guaranteed to be a political joke. There would be all those camera shots of Democrats sitting on their hands. Nancy’s carefully chosen 24 guests would be showcased by network TVs to embarrass Trump as much as possible. The camera would frequently focus on her looking bored and disgusted sitting behind the President. There would be numerous cameos of prominent Democrats looking disgusted. For Trump, giving a State of the Union Speech in the House Chambers can only be described as enemy turf. Now Trump gets to choose his own venue and he will be the one with home field advantage.
He will give the speech in front of a massive crowd that wants to hear what he has to say. Nancy will get a hand delivered copy of the speech about 2 seconds before Trump goes live.
CNN and the other networks will try and cover for her, but they have no choice but to broadcast the State of the Union address without interruption. Since most people will turn off their televisions when Trump is done speaking, little they say or do will matter.
Trump does not need to give a State of the Union address to congress. This country went through a period of over 100 years when there was no State of the Union address. The speech was first given to congress by George Washington. Thomas Jefferson stopped the practice because he considered it to be too “monarchical.” Woodrow Wilson reestablished the tradition in 1913. The last president to deliver the State of the Union by letter was Jimmy Carter, after he had been crushed by Ronald Reagan during the 1980 election.
Attendance is limited to members of congress and 24 guests of the President and 24 guests of the Speaker of the House. It is the high honor and privilege of congress to request to be briefed in person by the President of the United States. He doesn’t have to accept the invitation; he is only required to send them a letter. Nancy Pelosi just threw that all away and it may be very long time before congress gets this back.
This reminds me of a friend who had just gone through a bitter divorce. He told his daughter that he would not attend any family event if his former wife would be there. So, he said: “I found myself eating Thanksgiving Dinner all by myself at McDonalds saying: Boy I showed her.”
To put this in perspective, Trump ordered Sarah Huckabee Sanders to stop giving daily press briefings. He pointed out, correctly, that the news media routinely distorted what she said and they were rude and disrespectful. So he told her not to bother any more.
The main stream media needed those press briefings. Trump did not. Now Jim Acosta has his coveted White House Press badge, but it gains him nothing more than entrance to poorly equipped empty room filled with other so-called journalists who also have absolutely nothing to report.
Nancy Pelosi needed Trump to deliver the State of the Union Address in the House Chambers. He was willing to do that, but he was not required to do that. He will deliver a State of the Union Address anyway, just not on her turf. Odds are he will wonder why speaking in front of a Joint Session of congress was worth the effort. If she graciously invites him again, after the shutdown is over, don’t be surprised if he says: “wait until next year.” Then, don’t bet on next year either.