Before there was Obama, there was Woodrow Wilson, “the most dramatically progressive president we’d ever had,” writes Michael Walsh in American Greatness. Wilson morphed the annual State of the Union speech into what it has become today: “the hot air that keeps the Capitol dome inflated,” with its stupefying length and “a laundry list of policy prescriptions that have almost no chance ever of being realized.”
This Year Might be Different
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has decided to stick her thumb in the eye of President Donald Trump and, citing security concerns, has asked him to delay his scheduled January 29 State of the Union address until the government re-opens or, alternatively, send it up the Hill in writing, as every president from George Washington to William Howard Taft did.
What a good Idea
The key to understanding what the SOTU was meant to address in the first place can be found in its Article II constitutional wording, which states that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Accordingly, early presidents concentrated on the nuts-and-bolts of government, including budget requests, the general economy, and other mundane matters.
Now, thanks to Pelosi, Trump has an opportunity to turn it into something else altogether: an actual report on the “State of the Union.” As Pelosi’s sidekick, U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), cracked: “the state of the union is off.” Boy, is it ever.
Trump can easily send a written report to the Congress. He should do just that. Even better, he can then take his disinvitation and move the venue elsewhere. He could then deliver his speech from the Oval Office—although he just gave a short talk from behind the Resolute Desk. Or, he could take it to Trump Country, and find a 50,000-seat stadium somewhere in Indiana or Texas and rock the house; if the SOTU is little more than a campaign speech in disguise, might as well go whole hog.
For more from Michael Walsh and what Trump could say, click here.