Whither the State of the Union?

Nancy Pelosi has purported to cancel President Trump’s State of the Union speech, scheduled for January 29, by withdrawing the invitation that the House and Senate jointly extended some time ago. It is easy to see why she wanted to do this: the State of the Union is a great stage for the president, and Trump no doubt would take the opportunity to blast the Democrats for their intransigence with regard to border security. Pelosi disingenuously blamed security concerns for withdrawing the House’s invitation, but the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security said that she failed to consult them, and there is, in fact, no issue with security.

So what should President Trump do? Pelosi suggested either postponing the speech or delivering it in writing. Actually, for much of our history, presidents did deliver their constitutionally-mandated “Information of the State of the Union” to Congress in writing. That fact highlights that the speech needn’t necessarily be delivered in the House chamber. There are other possibilities. Mitch McConnell could invite President Trump to deliver the State of the Union in the Senate chamber. Those quarters aren’t big enough to hold all of Congress, of course, but so what? The Democrats won’t come anyway, and it won’t hurt some House members to stand.

I would like to see Trump deliver the State of the Union before a cheering throng of 15,000 or 20,000 in an arena. He could invite members of Congress and justices of the Supreme Court to attend, and simultaneously deliver his report on the state of the union to Congress in writing. It would pain the networks to broadcast the speech under these conditions, but I think they would pretty much have to. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want the president to be seen in a favorable light in the House chamber? Fine. Let’s do it in an arena somewhere in the heartland. Where better to talk about the state of the union?

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