It’s not a formal State of the Union address — that will come next year — but on Tuesday President Trump will address a joint session of Congress in what amounts to the same thing. In years past, this has meant that camera-hogs on both sides of the aisle jockey for choice aisle seats so they can be seen shaking hands with the leader of the Free World as he makes his way toward the podium. But maybe not this year:
For nearly three decades, Engel has been on the aisle for every presidential address to Congress. For a fleeting moment, it’s just him and the president — two Republicans and two Democrats since he began the tradition in 1989 — shaking hands in a show of support for the leader of the free world.
Engel could be someplace else Tuesday night, when President Trump strides down the House’s center aisle to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress. It’s not technically called a State of the Union this early in a presidential term, but Trump’s speech will have the same bells and whistles.Engel has not decided yet what to do; he did not decide to attend Trump’s inauguration until the day before. Other Democrats who have previously angled for prime seats have decided to distance themselves from Trump, whose first month in office has prompted outrage from most congressional Democrats.
“I have no desire to sit on the aisle and shake the president’s hand,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.), who has traditionally positioned himself just off the aisle and leaned over his colleagues to get a moment with the president. Not this time. He’ll be in the chamber, but far away from the aisle.
Well, bully for him. Remember when Joe Wilson shouted at Barack Obama for blatantly lying during a SOTU:
Democrats reacted in horror. But now, snubbing the new president — and telling the world about it — just because your nose is still out of joint is apparently A-OK. Because, after all, Trump has nobody to blame but himself:
This is just the latest example of how Trump has scrambled the most basic of traditions in Washington. On Jan. 20, for Trump’s inauguration, a third of House Democrats publicly declared they were boycotting the swearing-in ceremony, led by civil rights icon John Lewis (D-Ga.), who declared Trump an illegitimate president because of alleged Russian meddling with the 2016 election contest.
In the Senate, Democrats have turned the normally brisk pace of confirming a new president’s Cabinet into an unprecedented slog — even for less controversial nominees. And this week, thousands of liberal anti-Trump activists have descended on town hall meetings with lawmakers to protest the new president.
Now, even Tuesday’s introduction of the president to a joint session of Congress will be watched for political statements aimed at Trump.
Note how the Washington Post diligently keeps the “Russian” meme, drags the undistinguished John Lewis back into the argument and blames the president for triggering boorish and sometimes violent anti-Trump “activists.” But it’s all in a day’s work for the propaganda organ on the Potomac, whose hard-won reputation as a less-extreme version of the New York Times is now completely shot.
Nice work, Marty Baron.