(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) It has been widely observed that President Trump’s State of the Union speech was deeply incoherent: While he offered the usual paeans to bipartisan unity, they came packaged with vicious partisan attacks and lies, and on the core issues dividing the country, he rigidly refused to give any ground, while only talking to his base.
But this take, while accurate enough, underplays Trump’s real message, one that will continue animating his overall posture in the new Washington going forward.
In many ways, Trump is demanding nothing less than total capitulation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
But, even if we accept that this was a truly conciliatory moment, Trump also said in no uncertain terms that this new House majority must not carry out one of its most important institutional functions.
Trump is threatening harm to the country in a manner that is extortionate, right at this very moment, and there is little doubt we’ll see more of this once the Democratic investigations heat up.
Trump is threatening to detonate a ticking time bomb As the political world dissects Trump’s rhetoric, the underlying reality is that right now, Democrats and Republicans on the conference committee are frantically negotiating to disable a ticking time bomb that Trump himself set — the threat of another government shutdown, or a declaration of a national emergency — if Trump doesn’t get his full wall funding.
In his speech, Trump repeated the biggest lies festering at the core of his whole immigration narrative.
And while Trump feigned great concern about the humanitarian crisis created by the crush of asylum-seeking families — which is real — he did not explain why a barrier would solve this crisis.
Trump said nothing in his speech to alter that basic reality.
We’re back where we started: If Trump doesn’t fully get his way, we’re looking at another government shutdown or even a national emergency declaration — the new House majority be damned.
Indeed, Trump’s speech was saturated with his and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller’s utter refusal to accept that the big arguments underlying their whole immigration agenda were soundly rejected in the midterm elections.
We also do not know whether Trump is willing to allow Republicans space to negotiate in this new reality, the one outside Foxlandia, in which Democrats control the lower chamber and are beholden to a younger, more diverse majority electorate that actually exists in the real world and has flatly rejected Trump’s immigration agenda, values and worldview.
Read more: The State of the Union was deeply weird Trump’s speech showed how he’s redefined conservatism in his own toxic image Stacey Abrams shines with delivery of Democratic response Trump calling for ‘comity’?
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