President Trump will not give the State of the Union address on the floor of the House on January 29.
In an utterly unprecedented move, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refuses to have him in "her" House.
Although there had been much talk about finding an alternative venue, the President said yesterday that he will delay the SOTU until the partial government shutdown ends :
“I am not looking for an alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber.”
Hold on. I think the President just might have won this.
Pelosi's rescinding an invitation to the President to enter the House is unprecedented.
Her act has been widely described as petty. Ruthless is another word that springs to mind.
It shows she will stop at nothing, even upending what has become a national tradition, to get at the President.
And Pelosi's in effect canceling of the SOTU lacked one of the virtues of Trump's last minute cancelation of Pelosi's military plane for a trip abroad. Fred Barnes observed:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer denounced the president’s cancellation of Mrs. Pelosi’s military plane to Afghanistan: “It’s petty. It’s small. It’s vindictive.” True, but it was also funny. Mr. Trump specializes in making fun of his foes.
There is nothing funny about refusing to have the President set foot in the House Chamber. It adds to the growing feeling that the center of our democracy isn't holding (even if a written SOTU would satisfy constitutional standards and spare us a monarchical spectacle).
This time, however, President Trump is not going to engage.
There will be no unseemly scrambling for another place.
In his statement, President Trump actually showed more respect for the "history, tradition, and importance" of the House Chamber than did the Speaker.
I'm betting that Ms. Pelosi is at least a little bit disappointed.
Just an aside on Air Nancy: Emily Zanotti of the Daily Signal reports that one of Ms. Pelosi's foreign trips reportedly cost the taxpayer $184,587.81. It was a 2015 trip to the Italy and the Ukraine. Four lucky Pelosi family members got to tag along.
It's clear that when the shutdown is over, Pelosi will make up for lost time. And travel.
And it is clear that when the shutdown is over, the President will give his SOTU in the House (unless Pelosi throws caution to the winds and tries to ban him permanently, which just might play into his hands).