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Assault on America, Day 456: Trump and Pelosi don’t talk to each other. Is anyone bothered?

Pelosi rips up speech
“Do we need to talk?”

The question is usually posed to someone you’d like to avoid, such as an arrogant boss or an obnoxious coworker with annoying habits or a fellow student randomly assigned by the teacher to work on a project with you -- or an ex with whom you share children -- but we always end up doing what’s necessary to satisfy a duty or responsibility. In these times of hyper-partisanship and intense divergence on worldview, the logic extends to members of the opposition party as well, especially those who repeatedly run to the liberal establishment media to dish out their latest negative dig or insult.

Like it or not, some folks must talk to each other even if they don’t want to. The President of the United States and the Speaker of the House are two such individuals who theoretically should communicate regularly, though if Nancy Pelosi is to be believed (always an iffy proposition), she and Donald Trump don’t ever trade thoughts. Is it a sign of the times or just the way it is?

David Sherfinski reported at The Washington Times, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi … said she speaks to U.S. presidents on an ‘as-needed’ basis amid reports that she and President Trump haven’t spoken extensively in months. ‘I’ve always spoken to presidents on an as-needed basis,’ Mrs. Pelosi said on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’ ‘It’s an historic occasion when the speaker and the president speak - it’s history.’

“’If it’s necessary, I’m sure we will speak,’ she said. ‘I don’t know what I would learn in a conversation with the president. We speak to each other right now, and that’s what he really hears, what people say publicly much more than what you might say in a call.’ ‘I think that those should be public anyway so everybody knows what actually happened in the conversation,’ she said.”

You mean the $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package wasn’t an “if necessary” “as-needed” circumstance, Ms. Pelosi?

Sherfinski additionally reported that Trump viewed Pelosi’s televised appearance and tweeted his response. “’I watched a portion of low rated (very) Morning Psycho (Joe) this Morning in order to see what Nancy Pelosi had to say, & what moves she was planning to further hurt our Country,’ the president said on Twitter. ‘Actually, other than her usual complaining that I’m a terrible person, she wasn’t bad. Still praying!’”

One can only guess what it’s like when Trump and Pelosi occupy the same room space. Clearly there’s no love lost between the leaders of two of America’s governmental branches, prideful people overcome by human nature. No one ever said everyone must get along, but the silent treatment can be particularly destructive when crises arise (the coronavirus?) and an urgent response is demanded. Imagine if two surgeons performing an operation refused to speak to each other -- the results could be deadly.

There probably aren’t many conservatives or Republicans anxious to chat with Adam Schiff or Jerrold Nadler or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib or Maxine Waters or (insert Democrat congressman or woman here), either, but occasionally a situation (committee hearings?) arises where it’s required. There are also a bevy of Democrat senators who’d earn a similar level of avoidance anxiety, inclusive of all but a handful of the upper chamber’s minority conglomeration.

Former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn passed away last weekend, the news tucked beneath a massive accumulation of COVID-19 coronavirus reports. Coburn attained his legend and notoriety from his willingness to talk -- to anyone -- about his concerns for the country, particularly on fiscal restraint and the pressing need to stop wasting so much of the taxpayers’ money through earmarks and excessive spending. Coburn was a rare bird.

History is full of tales of notable people who didn’t see eye-to-eye and rarely (if ever) spoke. Heck, there was so much animosity between the Beatles’ band members that they could barely stand being in the same room together towards the end of their run. Similarly, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and ex-quarterback Tom Brady reportedly didn’t often trade words and they won six Super Bowls together. Sometimes great things are achieved with simply an understanding of the other’s non-verbal capabilities and shortcomings.

The same goes for legendary Americans such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. In 1792, the latter two convinced the former to run for another term as president when Washington was ready to step down, transfer power to someone else and return to Mount Vernon to live out his days as a happy private citizen farmer. Thomas and James then bailed on George when his second administration was underway. All three were Virginians, yet they viewed the federal government’s role in the new republic very differently, Washington thinking the young nation needed a strong federal authority, while Madison and Jefferson believed the states should go their own way within the system.

Washington’s proverbial dog house’s door swung only one way. If America’s preeminent Founding Father had a fatal flaw it was his unwillingness to forgive and forget, a trait he took with him to his final resting place. (It should be noted that Jefferson and John Adams also spent years without speaking but eventually rebuilt the bridges of comity and established a correspondence that lasted until their dying day. They both passed away on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.)

In other words, there are plenty of cases where people don’t talk. Trump and Pelosi certainly aren’t unique. With all the recent COVID-19 inspired banter over what’s essential (pot shops and liquor stores?) versus non-essential (churches and schools?), it’s no surprise that Pelosi and Trump have ceased all non-essential communiques. The enmity between them is deep and wide and short of some remarkable mental metamorphosis by one or both of them, is assuredly irreversible. Over the years Trump acquired a reputation as someone who would talk to anybody, but he also held grudges. On the other hand, Pelosi has never been overly approachable to anyone she doesn’t choose to cohort with.

The Speaker’s gotten where she is today by demonstrating a political ruthlessness that makes people fear her. Pelosi’s got powers and she uses them. How else could she have passed Obamacare (in 2010) -- or impeached Trump -- without a single Republican vote in support? If only John Boehner or Paul Ryan exhibited such pitiless effectiveness during their tenures, the GOP would be in a better place today.

Pelosi’s press conferences are loaded with condescending crapola that likely no one -- even her supporters -- truly believes. As alluded to by Trump above, during impeachment, for example, the Speaker said she “prayed” for the president. Trump didn’t buy it (unless, as he suggested, she was praying for something bad to happen). Words mean things and perhaps Madam Speaker was beseeching the almighty to change Trump’s heart concerning his “guilt” and then offer to resign -- but it wasn’t something that needed to be shared publicly.

A rehashing of the Trump-Pelosi relationship isn’t necessary here; it’s enough to acknowledge that they don’t like each other, and while many would-be peacemakers say politics shouldn’t be personal, it’s obviously touchy between two of the three most powerful people in government. The Constitution places the Speaker of the House third-in-line in order of ascendance, so there’s a great deal of importance riding on their interactions.

But aside from their official functions, does the President of the United States need to speak to anyone directly? Or is it necessary for everyone to be cordial to fulfill their duties?

By the same token, it’s also evident Trump and Pelosi surmise their continued antipathy for each other will help them politically. Pelosi certainly wouldn’t gain favor with Democrat voters by pretending to be chums with Trump. As calculating as she is, San Fran Nan probably supposes she’s winning votes by chiding the president at every opportunity. She drew gobs of media attention for her State of the Union speech text tearing stunt, with most of the reaction from her followers being positive.

Likewise, Trump realizes his best chance to earn and conduct a successful second term is for Republicans to regain the House majority and oust Pelosi. The president recognizes that maintaining the loyalty and enthusiasm of his base is critical to winning reelection. So what incentive is there for him to call up Pelosi, invite her to the White House for a pow-wow and then walk outside arm-in-arm (or is that so yesterday due to social distancing?) to greet the media?

Trump benefits from tabbing Pelosi and Minority Leader “Chucky” Schumer as political enemies. And it’s not like he hasn’t tried to establish working relationships with the opposition in the past, particularly on issues Americans would generally unify behind such as national security (securing the border and immigration) and infrastructure.

It's safe to say Trump probably doesn’t speak much with Senators Mitt Romney or Lisa Murkowski either, so the impasses aren’t purely partisan. Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard likely doesn’t receive many nice looks from Speaker Pelosi these days, too. President Harry Truman allegedly once said, “You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” Sage advice.

The coronavirus crisis and Trump’s public relations style is drawing criticism from some friendly circles as well. In a column titled “Trump should cut the drama and pettiness out of his coronavirus response,” The Editors of The Washington Examiner wrote, “In a Sunday press conference, Trump also questioned the growing demand for masks in New York City hospitals, which are necessary to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus among medical workers on the front lines. ‘Where are the masks going?’ he asked. ‘Are they going out the back door?’

“Trump has also proven himself unable to avoid drawing out petty fights with hostile governors. He said he wants governors to be ‘appreciative’ of the job the administration is doing and that he won’t call the Democratic governor of Washington state, Jay Inslee, home to one of the worst outbreaks in the country. ‘He's a failed presidential candidate,’ Trump said. ‘He's a nasty person. I don't like the governor of Washington. So, you know who calls? I get Mike Pence to call.’

“This is a time for the president to be rising above the fray and to be calling for national unity. He should be focusing press briefings on informing the public about the response to the coronavirus.”

Anyone who’s followed Trump’s COVID-19 briefings knows there’s plenty of non-political information in them about the government’s response to the pandemic. And if Trump chooses to avoid speaking with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee -- a “climate change” obsessed jerk if there ever was one who’s repeatedly savaged Trump in very personal ways -- then that’s his prerogative.

It's fair game to criticize the president for his political moves, but his demeanor and presentation are up to him. Trump isn’t about to sit there and take a political beating from pols like Inslee and Pelosi just because the coronavirus is out there.

No one will lose sleep over the fact President Trump and Speaker Pelosi don’t speak and government will go on regardless of their failed personal relationship. In these trying times when we’re all searching for answers there aren’t any rules on political decorum. Trump will focus on doing his job, not pundit gamesmanship.

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