Speaker Nancy Pelosi put the White House on notice that she does not intend to invite President Trump to address a joint session of Congress on January 29, as is the usual tradition, to deliver the State of the Union (SOTU) address.
She claims “security concerns,” but that’s a flimsy excuse.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on Jan. 29,” Ms. Pelosi wrote.The New York Times, Jan 16, 2019
Sure, this is political grandstanding at its finest. It’s almost to the level of a Trump-style troll, to which the president has not immediately responded. The lack of a Trump reply on Twitter can be interpreted as his gut instinct telling him that anything he might say or tweet right now would only shove his metatarsals further into his epiglottis.
But that’s not the message of Pelosi’s break of tradition. The real message is in the planned date of the State of the Union: January 29. Today is January 17, and Democrats have settled in for the long haul. They refused a Wednesday lunch invitation by the White House to discuss a solution to the shutdown.
In fact, there are no meaningful negotiations taking place to end the shutdown, although Trump signed legislation guaranteeing furloughed federal employees–and those who are forced to work without pay–will receive back pay and benefits (including paid time off) for their time spent in political purgatory.
Pelosi’s message is simple, and clear. Democrats are in this for the long haul, and plan to never (or at least until it’s politically beneficial to them) capitulate to Trump’s wall funding demand. They want the shutdown to hurt. They want to parade an endless line of harmed victims of the shutdown in front of eager media cameras. They want at least another 12 days of this until the Republicans break and turn on the president.
The shutdown is immoral, harmful, and will not be forgotten by voters. Trump cannot back down, or risk irreparable damage to his political future. Many in Congress will face the same wrath from voters. But Democrats have played their hand in the open. The shutdown will continue because Democrats want it to continue until maximum damage is inflicted.
That’s Pelosi’s real message.