Home / Blog / Article




January 28 2019

The SOTU as a Political Football

by Charlotte Hays

Speaker Pelosi is riding high after the reopening of the government and the Daily Beast celebrates this in a piece headlined "Pelosi, Well, Manhandles Trump."

The most interesting facet of the piece in my mind is that in it Speaker Pelosi reveals that she was was willing to use the State of the Union address as a political ploy.

Although many of us would like to see the end of this pageant, as the SOTU has become, it is still an American political tradition.

Not many elected officials would be so cavalier with American traditions as to trifle with the SOTU. But it appears that the Speaker has no such trepidations. The Daily Beast explains:

She makes it sound easy, following a few simple rules. One, no State of the Union speech while the government is partially closed. Two, no negotiating about policy until the government is open. Then she stood her ground. No complicated back and forth. A  straightforward “no” to every demand for a wall.

The deal reached between Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell opens the government for three weeks with no wall money. An online CNN story assessing the politics called it a clear win for Pelosi with the hashtag “Queen Pelosi.” Asked if she liked that, Pelosi responded with an emphatic “No, I don’t want anybody thinking in terms like a monarchy.”  

Not many politicians have gone up against Trump and emerged victorious, with their dignity intact. How did she do it? “First you start with a feather,” she said, “then you move to a sledgehammer.” In her telling, when she first told the president he couldn’t give his SOTU while the government was closed, he said he was coming. She rebuffed him a second time, and he said he was coming anyway. Then she said “please don’t,” telling him the House that she controls would not vote on a “concurrent resolution”  to formally invite him.

Bingo! “One step at a time, and he understood, and when he understood, he understood, and sometimes it’s about timing,” she said. Asked if she thought Trump and his people realized her power over something as traditional as the SOTU, she said, rather dismissively, “I don’t spend a lot of time sussing out what they know.”   

President Trump, in announcing that he would not give the SOTU until the end of the shutdown, showed an unaccustomed awe when he praised the "history, tradition, and importance" of the House Chamber as a setting for the address.

President Trump is scheduled to deliver the SOTU in the House Chamber on Feb. 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 





Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
Follow us