I don’t know about you but I plan to try to interpret some body language that will be on full display this evening in front of the entire United States of America when Donald Trump delivers the presidential State of the Union speech.
Sitting over his left shoulder will be a woman with whom he has had, um . . . words. Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited him to the House of Representatives chamber, then uninvited him, then reinvited him.
The president and the speaker aren’t exactly close. They’re fighting over The Wall. Trump wants money to build it along our southern border; Pelosi says it is an “immoral” request and opposes its construction.
Hey, we’ve seen this kind of thing play out many times over many decades. Speaker John Boehner and later Paul Ryan never looked all that thrilled when Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union speeches. The speakers were Republicans, the president was a Democrat.
How about when Speaker Pelosi sat behind GOP President Bush, or when GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich had to listen to Democratic President Clinton deliver the SOTU? Same thing, man. The speaker of a different party than the president usually doesn’t jump to his or her feet to applaud when POTUS delivers a line that suggests he expects some hand claps.
The animus between the current speaker and the president, though, is more visceral. Or so it appears. Sure, Trump said some nice things about Pelosi when House Democrats elected her speaker at the start of this congressional session. Did he mean them? Hah, you figure it out!
Pelosi, meanwhile, has been even less generous in her public comments about Trump. I believe the president knows it and likely will feel the speaker’s icy stare on the back of his neck while he talks about the State of the (dis)Union.
Pass the popcorn.