In effectively disinviting President Donald Trump from delivering his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi undoubtedly feels she has struck a blow for the administration's opponents.
But all Pelosi has really done is deny the American people the debate they deserve on this critical issue.
Sure, the war of words will continue. But as Trump tweeted late Wednesday, "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.”
Exactly. Now isn't the time for competing events and a relentless game of tit for tat in the news media. Now is the time to get together and air our respective visions before the public — and do so in a dignified way that respects our long-standing traditions.
After all, if the partial shutdown isn't an economic or a security crisis yet, it is certainly a moral and confidence crisis for our country. And our leaders in Washington are fully responsible for it.
So postponing, or even canceling, the State of the Union address comes at the worst time. Now is exactly when we Americans most deserve to hear from our elected leaders. Now is when we need to hear their plans and get some answers. Not at some date TBD.
The State of the Union is the ideal forum for just that. The president gets to share his vision. The opposition party is given time to respond. The commentators get to analyze and fact-check. And the American people get to decide which path is best.
With Pelosi locking the doors to the House, and Trump accepting the disinvite via Twitter, we're witnessing Washington at its worst — politicians squabbling while the American people are left without answers.
We can speculate all we want about the real reasons the State of the Union won't go on as planned. But we don't need to get into the minds of any politician to call a bad idea a bad idea. And canceling the State of the Union address is a bad idea.
This piece originally appeared in USA Today