House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), citing security concerns, wrote to Donald Trump yesterday, suggesting he either postpone his State of the Union address or submit it in writing. The president didn't immediately reply, though he sent a rather remarkable written response this afternoon. It read in its entirety:
"Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over. In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate. I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown. Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative."I look forward to seeing you soon and even more forward to watching our open and dangerous Southern Border finally receive the attention, funding, and security it so desperately deserves!"
For a man who claims not to throw tantrums, today's petty announcement offers compelling evidence to the contrary.
It's always nice to see when the president actually writes his own correspondence. The idiosyncratic grammar -- Trump continues to capitalize random words he finds important, he's never quite gotten the hang of hyphens -- gives away the game.
The trouble, naturally, is that the needlessly petty president doesn't know what he's talking about. Pelosi wasn't going to Egypt; this wasn't an "excursion" or a "public-relations" trip; the trip wasn't scheduled to last seven days; there's no such thing as a "Strong Border Security movement"; and if Trump is genuinely interested in giving the border obsessive "attention," it's a mystery as to why he invested so little effort into the issue during his first two years in office -- and why he agreed with Pelosi's position on funding the government as recently as last month.
Nevertheless, the House Speaker's office responded soon after with a written press statement:
"The Congressional Delegation to Afghanistan included a required stop in Brussels for pilot rest. In Brussels, the delegation was scheduled to meet with top NATO commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies -- to affirm the United States' ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance. This weekend visit to Afghanistan did not include a stop in Egypt.""The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation and thanks to our men and women in uniform for their service and dedication, and to obtain critical national security and intelligence briefings from those on the front lines. The President traveled to Iraq during the Trump Shutdown as did a Republican CODEL led by Rep. Zeldin."
Given the president's hostility toward NATO -- a position that brings Trump in line with his benefactors in the Kremlin -- we're left to wonder whether that contributed to the American president's latest tantrum.
Similarly, it's unclear why it's not an "excursion" and a "public-relations" event when Trump visits U.S. troops in Iraq, but Pelosi receives the labels when visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
All additional congressional delegation trips have also been canceled, though members of the president's team, at least for now, are still scheduled to attend the upcoming Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.