State of the Union Address: Unity or Emergency?


On Tuesday, Trump will throw down the gauntlet: Unity or Emergency?

Tuesday’s State of the Union speech comes at a time of deep partisan division over border wall after record-long shutdown.

The WSJ reports Trump to Call for Bipartisanship as He Threatens to Declare Emergency.

President Trump in Tuesday’s State of the Union is expected to issue a plea for national unity at a moment of deep partisan divisions, with the Democratic-controlled House and the White House at an impasse over spending priorities while Mr. Trump threatens to do an end-run around both chambers of Congress to pay for a wall on the southern U.S. border.

Mrs. Pelosi will be sitting behind Mr. Trump, alongside Vice President Mike Pence, as the president delivers the address. A CNN poll released Monday found Mrs. Pelosi’s approval rating jumped eight points during the recent partial government shutdown to 42%, while polling has shown that Mr. Trump has borne the brunt of the blame for the shuttering of government offices for the longest period in U.S. history.

In a January Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 50% of respondents blamed him for the shutdown, compared with 37% who said Democrats were most responsible. The president’s overall job performance rating remained steady, with 43% approving and 54% disapproving of the job he is doing.

Minds Made Up

I cannot hope to persuade anyone to change their minds because minds are already made up.

Rather, I can state that Trump is pressing a debate he cannot win except in the courts, and that is a risky move.

I caution that just because someone is economically illiterate or foolish on many things does not imply the same person is foolish on "everything".

I recently went through that with Michael Bloomberg who I called a foolish billionaire for his statement that trying to legalize marijuana is "perhaps the stupidest thing that anybody has ever done"

Clearly, legalizing marijuana is not the stupidest thing that anybody has ever done.

Yet, I had two friends who stood up for Bloomberg.

I responded:

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When you dramatically overstate your your case, you subject yourself to immense ridicule.

Like it or not, Pelosi has decent political instincts that need to be respected, even if you cannot stand her (and I can't).

Pelosi cannot possibly cave, nor can the Democrats. That leaves Trump with several choices.

Three Choices

  1. Declare a national emergency against the advice of most Senate Republicans
  2. Start a second government shutdown against the advice of all Senate Republicans
  3. Complete cave-in against the advice of some but not all Senate Republicans.

Those are the choices, all bad.

Of the two, the second is most problematic, followed by number three.

By process of elimination we arrive at number 1 followed by a big court battle.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (19)
No. 1-8

And number 1 is perfect. A wall will not be built in Trump's first term either because the court case drags on too long or the courts just shoot it down. But Trump will show he is fighting the good fight for his base. What's not to like?


Trump will not be president after 2020. He doesn’t even have time to get the courts to force the landowners off the land he needs to build the wall on. His legacy will be his empty schedule, at best, and a few million butthurt Trumplings.


Trump should just press play and then drop the mic.


"Number two, we do have to have control of our borders.

So I don't think that we can do this piecemeal. I think what we have to do is to come together and say, we're going to strengthen our borders -- and I'm going to be going to Mexico, I'm going to be working with President Calderón in Mexico to figure out how do we get control over the border that's become more violent because of the drug trade.

We have to combine that with cracking down on employers who are exploiting undocumented workers. (Applause.) We have to make sure that there's a verification system to find out whether somebody is legally able to work here or not.

You've got to -- and then you've got to say to the undocumented workers, you have to say, look, you've broken the law; you didn't come here the way you were supposed to. So this is not going to be a free ride. It's not going to be some instant amnesty. What's going to happen is you are going to pay a significant fine. You are going to learn English. (Applause.)

You are going to -- you are going to go to the back of the line so that you don't get ahead of somebody who was in Mexico City applying legally. (Applause.) But after you've done these things over a certain period of time you can earn your citizenship, so that it's not -- it's not something that is guaranteed or automatic. You've got to earn it.

Now, it only works though if you do all the pieces. I think the American people, they appreciate and believe in immigration. But they can't have a situation where you just have half a million people pouring over the border without any kind of mechanism to control it."


I won’t be able to watch the speech. I will catch up with the analysis on this blog tomorrow. As to what might be in it:

Unity. What a nice change that would be. The US desperately needs a President who brings people together instead of dividing them.

Not spouting divisiveness and hatred for others; surely he can manage that by simply not mentioning it.

Putting the Nation’s best interests ahead of the two political parties best interests; I would love to see that.

Using the speech to actually talk about the nation, instead of lauding himself; I’m not sure he can.

I would settle for a speech that isn’t full of lies. What’s the over/under on lies this time?


Unity? Never going to happen -- his instincts are to "go to the base" He's clearly a terrible negotiator; first 80% probability of a second shut down, with the introduction, two weeks later, of an emergency funding for his wall...that he will lose in the courts.

Trump created this mess, the GOP wanted nothing to do with this wall, the proof is that in the two years where they could, they didn't. Assume the worse possible outcome...would be a good bet.


"Unity?" Is that like a pack of wolves and a couple sheep deciding on what's for dinner?


It's too early to pick a winner. All it will take is someone who crossed the border illegally to do something really bad,

The democrats state they don't want the wall because they think it's not effective. In reality, they don't want the wall because they think it will be effective. The best outcome for them is for Trump to build the wall and have it fail. The worst outcome is for him to build the wall and have it succeed. They're against it because they think it's more likely to succeed


Actually Trump can just tell his current secretary of Defense to build the WALL without declaring emergency and without getting funding from Congress.

There is a law called "10 U.S.C. 284 Support for counterdrug activities and activities to counter transnational organized crime:

(a)Support to Other Agencies.—The Secretary of Defense may provide support for the counterdrug activities or activities to counter transnational organized crime of any other department or agency of the Federal Government or of any State, local, tribal, or foreign law enforcement agency for any of the purposes set forth in subsection (b) or (c), as applicable, if—

(1) in the case of support described in subsection (b), such support is requested— (A) by the official who has responsibility for the counterdrug activities or activities to counter transnational organized crime of the department or agency of the Federal Government, in the case of support for other departments or agencies of the Federal Government; or (B) by the appropriate official of a State, local, or tribal government, in the case of support for State, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies; or

(2) in the case of support described in subsection (c), such support is requested by an appropriate official of a department or agency of the Federal Government, in coordination with the Secretary of State, that has counterdrug responsibilities or responsibilities for countering transnational organized crime.

(b)Types of Support for Agencies of United States.—The purposes for which the Secretary may provide support under subsection (a) for other departments or agencies of the Federal Government or a State, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies, are the following: ...

(7) Construction of roads and FENCES and installation of lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States."

Clearly lots of drugs are coming through the US-Mexico border and clearly human smugglers and coyotes bringing illegal immigrants to USA from Mexico are transnational organized crime.

Therefore 10 U.S.C. 284 (b) (7) allows Trump to tell Secretary of Defense to build FENCES on the US-Mexico border. Trump can have them build so high fences that they can be called a wall.