We expected all sorts of fits
and furies when Democrats took control of the House, but Speaker Nancy
Pelosi’s unprecedented threat to disinvite President Donald Trump to the State
of the Union sets the bar surprisingly low.
And it makes Trump’s cancellation of her overseas trip all the more sweet.
On Wednesday, citing disingenuous security concerns, Pelosi sent the president the formal equivalent of a lunchtime high school bully’s “you can’t sit with us anymore.”
The irony of the speaker holding up government funding over
border security while simultaneously decrying the lack of security for the
speech was apparently lost on CNN, who praised Pelosi’s gambit as “a major
Pelosi fails to recognize that in a partial shutdown,
essential services remain. Protecting the State of the Union is an essential
function, and its execution would be unaffected by the partial lapse in
Soon after the ink from Pelosi’s letter was dry, Homeland
Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen corrected
Pelosi by stating that “the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret
Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.”
Furthermore, Pelosi commands a Capitol Police force with a near
half-billion dollar annual budget. The
Capitol Police would play the largest role in securing the event and are completely
unaffected by the current lapse in appropriations funding. In fact, Pelosi’s
security detail was able to seamlessly accompany her to Hawaii during her
vacation in the early days of the shutdown.
In falsely citing—without evidence—security as the reason
for the disinvitation, Pelosi failed to address what changed from when she
initially invited the president two weeks ago, when the government was in the
same funding predicament.
Perhaps with the weakening of her position, and a reminder
that Trump’s 2018 speech garnered almost 50 million viewers, she decided to do
all she could to deny her political opponent the opportunity to continue to
make the case for border security.
That may be why she changed
her tune on Thursday, citing federal paychecks—not security per se—as her
reason for potentially disinviting the president.
Regardless of the merits of her reasons, she does retain the
authority to not host the president. But
withdrawing the invite would only reinforce public perceptions of Congress and
its abysmal approval rating.
The president can also give his address—which is constitutionally
obligated—at another place of his choosing. Perhaps he should consider
somewhere Democrats would want to go during this partial lapse in
appropriations: like a
nice beach in Puerto Rico.
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