Regardless of who occupies the Oval Office, the office of the presidency deserves our respect.
Instead, in another entry on the long list of regrettable developments in Donald Trump’s first term, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told the president this week that he would not be allowed to give his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as long as the partial government shutdown continued.
The unfortunate diss reflects the hyperpartisan dysfunction that plagues Washington, where Trump’s unnecessary shutdown continues to damage the U.S. economy and the lives of 800,000 federal workers and their families with no end in sight.
Pelosi let the acrimony of the moment eclipse the respect for American institutions that the State of the Union has come to symbolize. This isn’t about the individuals who hold any of the offices represented; it’s about commitment to our constitutional republic and the rule of law.
Trump has routinely upset norms during his campaign and while in office, much to the delight of his base. With her snub, Pelosi appeared focused on revving up her own party’s loyalists. And how does that leave America better off?
To his credit, Trump defused the issue late Wednesday by saying he would not look for another location and would hold off on the address until the shutdown ends. He seems to understand that there’s value in fulfilling his constitutional requirement to “give to Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Pelosi disregarded tradition and decorum by rescinding her Jan. 3 invitation to Trump to give the address Jan. 29. The drama and one-upmanship weren’t helpful, but the whole affair was sadly familiar.