Yesterday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and a group of freshmen Democrats, who in years gone by would have been waiting politely to be told by more senior lawmakers what to do and when, brazenly "invaded" the U.S. Senate so they could present Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with a letter demanding a vote to end the government shutdown.
Their initiative, labeled a "stunt" by Fox News, was all over social media as Cortez recorded their foray into McConnell's various offices, even to the Senate chamber itself, where House members can go but the President cannot without an invitation. In doing so, she put the blame for the continuing shutdown exactly where it belongs -- in the lap of Leader McConnell.
Why? While Trump has said he "proudly" owns the shutdown, McConnell is blocking legislation that would end it because the president remains stubbornly opposed. That, of course, is a real demonstration of political leadership and courage on McConnell's part. He has his head firmly pulled back in his shell.
As she traipsed down the hallways in the Senate looking for McConnell, Ocasio-Cortez said this into the camera: "He’s not in the cloak room. He’s not in the Capitol. He’s not in the Russel building. He’s not on the floor of the Senate. And 800,000 people still don’t have their paychecks — so #WheresMitch?"
Stunt or not, the effort went viral on social media, further enhancing Ocasio-Cortez' reputation as a fearless fighter. In just a couple weeks, she's become the best known member of the House next to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a stunning development considering she was tending bar only about a year ago.
The Hissy Fit
So while she and her contingent of other freshmen House members were on the prowl looking for McConnell, who apparently was hiding out perhaps in his hideaway office with its unmarked door, Speaker Pelosi sent a letter to Trump that, in effect, disinvited the president from presenting his State of the Union message January 29 in the House Chamber unless the shutdown has ended.
Pelosi reasoned that since the government is closed, it wouldn't be right to require all the necessary security personnel to work without pay for such an event, including the Secret Service.
Of course, such a move would mean the former reality TV star and showman-in-chief would be deprived of his nationally televised prime time speech with all of its attendant hoopla.
Mail it in, Pelosi told him.
So what did Trump do to retaliate?
Today, he sent Pelosi a letter telling her she can't have the big government jet for a trip she had planned with other lawmakers to Afghanistan, a trip that would have included a required stop in Brussels for pilot rest. There the group, including Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA.) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), was to meet with top NATO commanders and military leaders to affirm the United States' commitment to the NATO alliance.
"“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure that you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Trump wrote in his letter to the speaker. He said Pelosi could fly commercial, characterizing the trip as a “seven-day excursion.”
Of course, Trump most likely was especially unhappy with the NATO "commitment" part of the planned trip as he's been talking about pulling out of NATO, which he's frequently derided as unnecessary, and, of course, which would please his buddy, Vladimir Putin, to no end.
So there you have it.
A freshman Congresswoman shows up Mitch McConnell without ever speaking to him, and Pelosi and Trump get in a hissy fit -- all caused by the government shutdown and Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for the Trump Memorial Wall -- while 800,000 federal employees go unpaid.