House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to lead a congressional delegation to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It was supposed to be secret, in keeping with standard policy regarding official trips into a war zone.
Then the president of the United States, Donald Trump, pulled the plug on the trip. As commander in chief, he has the power to ground military aircraft for these congressional trips. So he did.
Then he released a letter to the public disclosing that Pelosi was going to Afghanistan, which flies directly in the face of normal protocol. The Pentagon, Congress and the White House don’t reveal in advance about trips into these combat zones.
As former Secretary of State John Kerry said via Twitter: The President of the United States just compared visiting our troops in a war zone to a “public relations event.” Another sad day for our nation when that’s how the Commander in Chief sees such a visit.
Kerry is correct to suggest that such trips aren’t just a “public relations event.” The speaker of the House, as the No.2-ranking official in line of presidential succession, reportedly was going to Afghanistan to speak to those troops, to tell them their country stands with them. It’s not just PR. It’s part of what members of Congress — as well as the president and Cabinet officials — do as part of their jobs.
Trump is trying to get Pelosi and other congressional leaders to negotiate an end to the partial government shutdown.
This back and forth is driving me batty. I want the shutdown ended, too. The men and women who have been furloughed and denied their income are suffering needlessly.
Pelosi wants Trump to delay his scheduled State of the Union speech. So what does Trump do in response? He blows the speaker’s cover by grounding a military jet that would have taken her potentially into harm’s way.
I’ve heard a term to describe this rhetorical exchange.