It would be an excellent way to snub any other president, but by calling for President Trump to reschedule the State of the Union, Nancy Pelosi has only given him a bigger stage.
It is a remarkable unforced error.
Citing national security, and specifically the difficulties facing the Secret Service and Capitol Police amid the government shutdown, House Speaker Pelosi, D-Calif., is asking Trump either to select a later, post-shutdown date or to submit his comments on State of the Union in writing, which presidents used to do commonly before the television era. But no one should be fooled — the real concern here is that Trump is going to stand up in front of a gigantic audience and literally point the finger at congressional Democrats in the House chamber, blaming them for shutting down the government.
Pelosi has the power to stop Trump from walking into the House of Representatives and delivering a speech, but she can’t stop him from making his case for the border wall in prime time. Just consider the address he delivered from the Resolute Desk last week.
Trump talked for roughly eight minutes and 43.3 million tuned in to watch, according to the AP’s count. Compare that to Trump’s very first joint address to Congress, right after his election, which 48 million watched. No congressional podium last week, and arguably far less interest in the novelty of his presidency, yet Trump drew an audience nearly as large.
If Pelosi insists, then Trump can speak from the Oval Office again if he likes. He could even march down the National Mall and deliver the speech on Pelosi’s doorstep. There could be a band. There could be fireworks. No matter what venue he chooses, there will be an audience, and it will probably be bigger now, thanks to Pelosi.