Progs and NeverTrumps celebrate Trump postponing SOTU at their peril
There are a lot of foolish back-slapping and high fives among Trump-haters from both parties this morning on the news that President Trump has agreed to postpone the State of the Union Address in the wake of Speaker Pelosi withdrawing the invitation to use the House of Representatives' chamber. (For example, "Trump waves the white flag and surrenders to Nancy Pelosi on State of the Union" and "Flounder in Chief Folds.") Celebrate now, repent later. The chess game is far from over.
As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative - I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2019
....alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2019
But even the New York Times realizes that the story is far from over, calling Trump's move a "seeming capitulation."
2018 SOTU; 2019 edition, date TBD (photo credit: KJ Riordan).
Even before Trump's next steps (and Trump always has next steps in mind) play out, there are several takeaways.
Trump has ensured that his next SOTU, whenever it takes place, will get a huge television audience. He will address the nation with Nancy Pelosi sitting behind him, her facial expressions on view. He will have the option of turning around and directly addressing her, on whatever points he wishes to make.
Trump has also given the lie to caricatures of him as "impulsive," "reckless," and likely to blunder us into a nuclear war, views held as gospel among the NeverTrump faction of putative conservatives. He has done what wise leaders and generals do when confronted with an unexpected enemy move: he has read the terrain and order of battle and concluded that the odds do not favor him on the enemy's newly defined terms.
Trump has removed a huge distraction from the real battle, over the border barrier, and the Dems' refusal to fund the federal government with a physical barrier funded. They are stuck with the position of telling federal employees that it is more important to prevent obstructions to illegal entry by foreigners than it is to pay them. They are stuck with the fantasy that walls are outdated, and useless, something so stupid that only an intellectual would believe it. Trump has a wining hand, and time is on his side.
Trump has reaffirmed his commitment to constitutional governance, including the specifics of executive, congressional, and judicial power. This is crucial, because both the legislative and judicial branches have disregarded their responsibilities and limitations, and Trump has many fish to fry when it comes to challenging them on their power-grabs and defaults (federal district court judges in Hawaii overruling presidential prerogatives in all 50 states and Congress defaulting its legislative responsibilities in favor of administrative law created by bureaucrats, for example).
Some might claim that Trump made a mistake by initially challenging Pelosi over her slap in the face by withdrawing the invitation. But quietly complying would have been a mistake. She offered a phony excuse of security concerns and has now been revealed to have lied to the American people. And, it is clear, Trump needed to explore options, including an alternate location for a SOTU.
Incidentally, he still has the option of delivering an address on January 29 that won't be called a SOTU, but which will draw extra attention, even from the networks (all of them but Fox News) that will not televise it.