By: Stephen Collinson – CNN.com – January 24, 2019
Washington (CNN) — Nancy Pelosi isn’t giving an inch.
The House speaker, fortified by brutal polling for Donald Trump, refuses to provide the President an easy way out of his own political box as the government shutdown sparked by his demand for a border wall drags into a 34th day.
In his latest skirmish with Pelosi, Trump effectively admitted defeat late Wednesday and conceded that he would not be able to give his State of the Union address until after the shutdown ends. Earlier in the day, he had publicly thrown down a gauntlet and tried to force the speaker to back down over her refusal to let next Tuesday’s showpiece speech take place in the House chamber.
Pelosi’s victory came ahead of a pair of Senate votes due to take place on Thursday on dueling Republican and Democratic plans designed to end the shutdown. Neither is likely to break the deadlock, and may simply underline that Trump’s hopes of a win remain slim.
The President is trying hard to reshape a political battlefield that is stacked against him, as sources suggest he is increasingly mystified that his tactics have not turned the tables on Democrats. Throughout his life, in business and in politics, Trump has leveraged his domineering personality, flair for showmanship and an unshakable self-belief that often defies the facts of a situation to get his way.
But he is finding in the new political context of divided Washington against an experienced adversary that his force of will and talent for engineering televised spectacles are not moving the political needle.
After Pelosi accepted his dare Wednesday and canceled his State of the Union address, Trump lashed out but failed to come up with an effective response.
“She’s afraid of the truth and the super left Democrats, the radical Democrats,” the President said at the White House while teasing an alternative plan for the address.
But later, the President announced on Twitter that he had shelved an idea that would have done more to showcase his diminished political standing than to damage the Democratic leadership of the House.
“I am not looking for an….alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a ‘great’ State of the Union Address in the near future!” Trump tweeted.
Trump did not specifically rule out some kind of political event next Tuesday.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported that White House officials were caught off guard with Pelosi’s swift, decisive response. Her move left the President looking outmatched and out of answers when his bluster was returned with interest.
It’s looking more and more like the President misjudged the politics of the shutdown or is perhaps so trapped in his West Wing and media bubble that he’s not getting an accurate fix on his worsening political position.
Little that he does — an Oval Office address, a trip to the border, a weekend offer that was swiftly rejected by Democrats — seems to improve his position.
Polls show that a majority of the public still solidly blames Trump for the shutdown and are opposed to his border wall — 71% in a new CBS poll said it’s not worth the shutdown.
A failed bid to turn the tide
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A replacement State of the Union?
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