“MR. SPEAKER. THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES” the House Sergeant at Arms bellows preceding thunderous applause from those gathered. As he steps to the side, a stoic looking, freshly coifed Donald J. Trump saunters into the House Chamber, complete with a red silk tie longer than a CVS receipt.
“Ladies and Gentlemen. My fellow Americans. Tonight, as I talk to you tonight in your home, after you’ve tucked in your children, paid your bills, put away the dishes and finally put your feet up, I am standing here in front of some of your elected representatives who have chosen to put their political futures ahead of keeping your government open. They have chosen to leave your family stranded at the gates to our national parks while they send emails to donors listing that as a feat on their resumes.”
Chuck Todd will have an aneurism. Jake Tapper’s brows will furrow so aggressively that CNN will put them on the next panel to debate Kayleigh McEnany. Wolf Blitzer will maintain his monotone. Did a President just unabashedly blister his political opponents during a speech traditionally reserved for lofty rhetoric about visions for a shimmering future?
The first ever president to deliver a State of the Union while the government was shut down, a defiant Donald Trump would be empowered to deliver a campaign style speech in which no opponent could hit back, with all the majesty and pomp of the joint session of United States Congress in his midst.
This setup was made for Donald Trump. His
best friends mortal enemies, Chuck and Nancy, just chose to fight for illegal immigrants instead of funding children’s insurance. (Or so he’ll tell you.) He relishes both the spotlight and putting others down, and on this night, he’ll have the biggest audience to do both.
Since Bill Clinton watched Newt Gingrich stumble into the 1996 shutdown, Republicans have received the brunt of the criticism for each closure and common logic would hedge that this time, with control of the House, Senate, and White House, the Republicans would again be mocked for failing to keep their own government functional.
Standing in front of that podium Trump would have one hour of uninterrupted time – complete with his own live applause track – to hit back and spread the gospel of the dangerous immigrant while lamenting those poor, poor children who currently lack health insurance.
This would be a State of the Union unlike any other. While past presidents have masked critiques with mild overtures to “reach across the aisle” and “work together to find common sense solutions” Trump would attack with the virulence of Ann Coulter after watching puppy videos.
He would rattle off his greatest hits like a band on an undersold reunion tour. The media hasn’t covered his success. The Democrats are so unfair to him. Everything is negative, they even shut down his government!
If there were ever a president to blaze a new trail and use a traditionally positive speech to riddle opponents, it would be Trump. He has never in history (like, two years) resisted the opportunity to counter-hit those who attack him. His Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, has offered unprecedented blistering attacks on the media from behind the White House seal. So why would this night be any different?
In doing all of this, Trump would actually be committing political suicide. He set the deadline for ending DACA. He failed to prioritize renewing CHIP months ago. This entire crisis is manufactured by the White House in a unified government. His party has governed from crisis to crisis while their only true compass appears to be whatever the opposite of Obama’s was.
The American people will see right through his charade and despite his bravado realize he is an empty suit who invented his own reality to incense his enemies and puff his ego.
But then again, where have I heard that before?
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