Cartoonist note: If you heard the analogy in this cartoon before, it’s because I tweeted and facebooked it yesterday.
In case you haven’t noticed by now, Donald Trump is a man-baby who doesn’t just need approval (why doesn’t The New York Times like him?), he craves adoration. Every cabinet meeting begins with genuflection and the entire room surrendering their dignity.
So, the yearly State of the Union speech before both houses of Congress where the entire room applauds when you walk in and your arrival is announced as if you’re Elvis is like a day of cake, ice cream, Time Magazine covers, and hamberders to Donald Trump. Taking that away from Trump would be a dagger to his ultra-thin whiny ego. That’s exactly where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stuck it.
Citing security concerns during the Trump shutdown, Pelosi suggested that Trump postpones or cancel his speech until the government reopens. It makes sense as the speech usually starts about how strong our union is. Naturally, Donald Trump wouldn’t want to lie during a government shutdown…oh yeah. This is Donald Trump.
There is no requirement for the president to deliver his speech in person. It’s more of a tradition, like the president saluting members of the military or releasing his taxes. The requirement in the Constitution is 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.” It doesn’t even say he has to do it annually (if you’re a Republican, “annually” means once a year). The tradition of delivering it in person was started by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913, which is something Trump probably does not know. It wasn’t even referred to as the “State of the Union” until 1934 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the term.
President George Washington (if you’re a Republican, that’s our first president), did deliver his speech in person, but President Thomas Jefferson ended that, considering it too “monarchical” (if you’re a Republican, that means all king-like and prancy). Every president since Wilson has given it in person at least once except Herbert Hoover (Edit: I messed up and wrote that Hoover was Wilson’s “predecessor” intending to write immediate “successor,” and I even got that wrong. Hoover was two presidents after Wilson. I messed up). The last president to deliver it by letter was President Jimmy Carter in his last year, after being defeated by Ronald Reagan.
A lot of Republicans were angered by Pelosi’s move, because it was brilliant. Until now, the only way Trump could relate to the suffering of government employees not receiving paychecks to pay their bills, feed their families, pay daycare, put gas in their cars, etc., was that he hasn’t been able to go to his swanky, private golf resort in Florida, play golf, let wedding guests pose with the nuclear football, and bilk the government for his stay. He reminds us of this almost daily since the shutdown began. Oh, the suffering. Pelosi just took away the one thing he could look forward to, other than all those hamberders.
Now, Trump has struck back. He grounded military flights for Pelosi and other members of Congress, minutes before they were to leave on a secret trip to visit troops in Afghanistan. On the same day, he allowed a military plane to fly First Lady Melania to that snobby golf resort.
Trump’s move, coming just a day after Pelosi suggested he not give the State of the Union, is petty. Pelosi’s move can actually make Trump more eager to end the shutdown since low approval numbers and starving federal workers aren’t making an impression. It was also negligent since the trip was secret and has put service members in danger that will be transporting and protecting the delegation. It also cost thousands of dollars to cancel it on such an abrupt notice.
Trump, being the petty child that he is, wrote in his letter that Pelosi was free to make her trip on a commercial flight. How nice of him to suggest the second person in line to the presidency take a commercial flight while air traffic controllers aren’t being paid and after he declassified the mission. But then again, Trump doesn’t care about endangering American lives as his “ISIS is dead” comment only triggered the terrorist organization to kill four Americans this week.
I have a suggestion to Trump. Since Pelosi can’t make the trip (and he did visit Iraq during this shutdown without flying commercial), and he hasn’t been to Afghanistan in the two years he’s been president (Obama went four times), he should take her place. He should just be sure to announce publicly when and where he’s going.
Watch me draw.