Earlier today, Trump fired off another snotty letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a bizarre attempt to force her to let him give his State of the Union address on the House Floor:
President Trump’s letter to Speaker Pelosi on the State of the Union pic.twitter.com/B4QN9hDJnv
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) January 23, 2019
Predictably Trump’s stunt ended in embarrassment for the president after Pelosi, who controls the House, sent her own letter politely informing him he could get bent:
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) January 23, 2019
OH SNAP 🍷🍟 https://t.co/jUstqtiZ7W
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) January 23, 2019
A huge threat to our democracy right now is that Nancy Pelosi might run out of mics to drop. https://t.co/a2QvWXUoY6
— Rex Huppke (@RexHuppke) January 23, 2019
Pelosi then trolled the president with some poll numbers that might not have made it through his impenetrable Fox News cocoon:
NEW CBS POLL 📊
▪️An overwhelming 71% of the American public believe Trump should not be holding workers hostage to his demands.
▪️Oh, and his approval ratings plummet to 36%.https://t.co/JdkBanjB3q
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) January 23, 2019
The poll shows Pelosi has the upper hand in the shutdown negotiations with a plurality of voters on her side:
This to my knowledge is the first (at least "high quality") poll that directly pitted Pelosi and Trump. Good for the Speaker and not so good for the President. pic.twitter.com/wIGCH07to0
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) January 23, 2019
Trump later retreated to the Oval Office where he seemed to concede defeat in the State of the Union battle. Of course, he didn’t admit he’d been beaten without lying that he’s actually winning and claiming it’s Pelosi who’s afraid of “the truth”:
TRUMP: "SOTU has been cancelled by Pelosi b/c she doesn't want to hear the truth. She doesn't want the public to hear what's going on, & she's afraid of the truth. The radical Dems, what's going on in that party is shocking. I know many people that were Dems & they're switching." pic.twitter.com/uiw04QOIiY
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 23, 2019
After an extended rant whining about having his invitation revoked Trump said, “We’ll be doing something in the alternative, we’ll be talking about that at a later date.” It’s unclear what kind of “alternative” Trump’s talking about but ideas that have been floated include an Oval Office address, somewhere on the border, or in the GOP-controlled Senate. Additionally, there have been reports Trump is considering two addresses, one to Congress and one in front of a fawning crowd of MAGA die-hards.
Trump could probably use a “feel-good” rally given the latest poll numbers. A new Associated Press poll has his approval rating at its lowest ever—34 percent:
Washington (AP) — AP-NORC poll: Majority of Americans blame Trump for shutdown as his approval hits lowest level in more than a year.
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) January 23, 2019
That AP poll has Trump’s approval at 34. That is not a typo.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) January 23, 2019
But this kind of short-term “give the baby his bottle” strategy is precisely what’s dooming his presidency. Trump is locked in a death spiral with his fan base (including right-wing media) where every move he makes to please them only puts actual victory further out of reach. Still, guided by right-wing media personalities like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and White House Communications Director Bill Shine, he also won’t break free.
The key to dealing with Trump – and I think Pelosi gets this – is to maneuver him into a contest where a) he can't win and b) he can't back down. He's completely unable to self-regulate, so the rest is easy: just sit back and watch the gears grind until something blows up.
— David Roberts (@drvox) January 23, 2019
It’s a dynamic that Pelosi seems to recognize well, which is why she’s standing firm on his shutdown demands. Any negotiation with a president who’s taken the government hostage will only encourage him to do it again. Meanwhile, the furloughed federal workers are bearing most of the brunt of Trump’s doomed strategy, and they’re starting to share their pain with the legislators responsible.
Hopefully the right-wing fever breaks soon, although it’s tough to see how that’s going to happen. It’s possible that getting a first-quarter GDP growth number of zero—a scenario Trump’s own economics advisor admitted was possible—could knock something loose. Or maybe pressure from GOP donors fearing such an outcome could force McConnell’s hand.
Chair of WH Council of Economic Advisors @WhiteHouseCEA just told me if #shutdown lasts until end of Q1 — “Yes” the U.S. economy could see zero growth. Zero. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Gt4yNzU7xo
— Poppy Harlow (@PoppyHarlowCNN) January 23, 2019
In the meantime, Trump, along with too many Congressional Republicans, are following the siren song of Fox News right off a cliff and they’re dragging the rest of the country with them.