Leave it to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to pick this year to urge President Trump not to deliver a State of the Union message,ostensibly because of the partial government shutdown.
Ms. Pelosi is urging the President to deliver a written SOTU. There is no reason this can't be done.
Thomas Jefferson and most Presidents until Woodrow Wilson did send written messages to Congress.
Some critics of the SOTU regard the event as a political pageant that reeks of monarchy and would dearly love to see the end of it.
But this year?
This might be one of thse rare years when Americans actually want and need to hear the Presidend deliver the SOTU.
We will have just have ended a partial government shutdown or still be in one. Moreover, a very serious matter (nothing less than the security of our southern border–and the humanitarian crisis there) is at the heart of the partial shutdown.
Since the Speaker of the House issues the formal invitation to the President to deliver the SOTU in the House chambers, I can foresee an opportunity for mischief and a further decline in the way business is done in Congress.
It has been suggested that the reason some don't relish this year's SOTU is that it could include an effective pitch for a border barrier.
Meanwhile, Ms. Pelosi couches her position in terms of security:
She concluded: “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29.”
Pelosi detailed the need for proper security at events such as the State of the Union, citing comments made by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who recognized the “need for the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear” to “ensure the security of these events.”
“The U.S. Secret Service was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for National Special Security Events…” Pelosi wrote. “However, both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now – with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.”
A senior official at the Homeland Security Department told Fox News that they had been preparing for months for the SOTU. The official dismissed Ms. Pelosi's stated concerns.
Not delivering this SOTU would make the administration look bad, which may be the real reason some of our crafty friends in Congress would like to see this year's SOTU stripped down.
It would also spare the President's opponents having to decide how they will comport themselves before the eyes of the nation, at a time of increasing tensions.
If there was ever a year when we needed to hear the President on the State of the Union, it is this year.
Trump often does extremely well in these moments, when he has a good speech, positions he obviously cares about, and knows that things are so serious that he should not veer from the script.
I usually dread SOTUs.
This year I'll be all ears.