We’ve never had a president who is more needy and attention-seeking than Trump, so Nancy Pelosi’s move to deny him an invitation to deliver the SOTU during the government shutdown was brilliant, as most of us appreciated in real time. A report from The Times yesterday reveals for the record just how significant a role Pelosi’s use of the SOTU as both carrot and stick played in reopening the government:
Mr. Trump, aides said, views the speech and all of the pomp and circumstance that accompany it with some reverence, and aides said he puts more time into his script because it is one instance where he usually sticks to it. For all of the president’s fabled norm-busting, there are aspects of the conventional presidency that appeal to him, none more so than standing in the hallowed halls of Congress, with all eyes on him speaking to the nation…
In fact, the dark-wood venue and the history of the address appeal so much to Mr. Trump that his reluctance to deliver the speech in an alternative venue — something that was briefly discussed in the White House after Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially canceled the speech because of the partial government shutdown — was part of Mr. Trump’s calculus for reopening, at least temporarily, the government.
Take that in for a moment: Trump abjectly surrendered on the shutdown — humiliating himself politically, infuriating creatures like Ann Coulter, underscoring his entire party’s capitulation to its leader’s stupidity and irresponsibility — all so he could flap his gums and wave his stubby fingers in front of official Washington, DC and live on all the networks.
I’ve read reports that McConnell and Co. were ready to pull the plug on the shutdown anyway since Trump’s and the rest of the GOP’s approval ratings were cratering and they feared the damage would haunt them next year. Well, that’s to Pelosi’s credit too since she held her caucus together.
But from what we know of Trump — his addiction to adulation, his disregard of collateral damage inflicted on anyone not named Donald J. Trump, his craving for unearned respect — my money’s on the SOTU as the chief factor in the shutdown cave. Well played, Madam Speaker.
Are y’all going to watch the shit-show tonight? We may or may not — it’ll be a game-time call for us, depending on our mood at 9 PM ET.
According to The Times report linked above, it sounds like xenophobic incel goon Stephen Miller is wrestling with more conventional GOP turd-polishers over the tone of the speech. So, it might be interesting as a rhetorical artifact to watch the theme ping-pong between white nationalist scaremongering and pseudo-lofty pablum.