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Was Pelosi's State of the Union Move a Foolish One?

Pundits weigh in
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2019 2:05 PM CST
A portion of a letter sent to President Donald Trump from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 in Washington. Pelosi has asked President Trump to postpone his State of the Union address...   (AP Photo/Wayne Partlow)
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(Newser) – In a letter to President Trump on Wednesday, Nancy Pelosi suggested that the State of the Union address, scheduled for Jan. 29, be postponed until after the shutdown ends or delivered in writing. Some reactions to the House speaker's move, which she indicated was tied to security concerns:

  • Calling it a "major power move," Chris Cillizza at CNN reports that Pelosi is conveying, loud and clear, that "the new Democratic majority in the House stands on equal footing with Trump." He notes that she subsequently emphasized in a CNN interview that Trump "can make it from the Oval Office if he wants"—basically, that he can do whatever he wants on his turf, but his power isn't limitless. There is a chance the move could blow up in her face, Cillizza notes, should voters eager to get the government working again view it as "unnecessary provocation" and more ammunition in Trump's argument that Democrats are just trying to keep him from publicly heaping the blame on them.

  • At the Washington Examiner, Philip Wegmann thinks it essentially did backfire, calling Pelosi's move a "remarkable unforced error." He writes that Trump may not get to appear in the House chamber, but he can give a primetime address pretty much wherever else he wants, and you can bet that more people will now end up tuning in when he does speak. "No one should be fooled—the real concern here is that Trump is going to stand up in front of a gigantic audience" and verbally pummel Democrats over the wall.
  • At the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin has praise for Pelosi, writing that her move makes "you wonder why in the world Democrats ever considered replacing her." Rubin describes her as having "mastered the art" of dealing with the president. "She knows she has power, she willingly and skillfully deploys it ... She also knows what Trump craves most—attention and TV cameras."
  • At Townhall, Guy Benson is aligned with Wegmann. He calls Pelosi's stated security concerns "bogus" and "absurd" (and points out that her office didn't consult with the various agencies before issuing her letter) and says the real fear is that Trump will take full advantage of the platform to push his case and blame Democrats for not working with him. "Trump should respond to the postponement idea with the back of his hand, informing the Speaker that he intends to take her up on her invitation as planned."
  • At the National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru likes where this is going, but for an atypical reason. He explains that House Republicans' campaign committee responded by associating Pelosi's move "with other Democrats’ expressions of hostility to the Senate, the Electoral College, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But the Senate and the Electoral College are part of our Constitution, and ICE is necessary to carry out an important government function. An annual presidential speech to Congress is neither. If the shutdown results in the end of this tradition begun by Woodrow Wilson, something good will have come of it."
(Read more Nancy Pelosi stories.)

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