Tuesday night President Trump gave his State of the Union address. I have watched the vast majority of the State of the Union addresses during my adult lifetime. Never have I found one that I could describe with so many words beginning with the letter “D” as in disgusting, despicable, disingenuous and deceiving. One word beginning with the letter “D” that I cannot use to describe Trump’s behavior is diplomatic.
Trump’s bad behavior began even before he spoke. As is tradition he handed copies of his speech to the Vice President and Speaker of the House who were seated above him. As Nancy Pelosi accepted the folder containing the speech with her left hand she extended her right toward Trump in the offer of a handshake. Trump refused to shake it. Let me remind Trump that he was an invited guest in the House chamber and is an impeached president. From that poor start it actually got worse.
Before he began to speak Trump pranced around the platform applauding himself. All presidents have been big ego people. Traditionally they soak in the applause for a bit and then tell the assembled to sit. I have never seen one who acted as their own cheerleader. The State of the Union is an address to a joint session of Congress; not a campaign rally in some deep red state. His sycophants responded with a chant of, “Four more years”. All that was missing from Tuesday night that you would find at one of Trump’s pep rallies were the MAGA hats and the, “Lock her up” chants.
The first twenty minutes or so were taken up with Trump touting the economy in a series of lies and deceptions. He even said, “The state of the union is stronger than ever.” To somewhat paraphrase James Carville and critic Trump: It’s the economy stupid but I am neither stupid nor easily deceived. Of course I’m not Trump’s target audience – I’m capable of critical thinking and assessments.
Mr. Trump, in view of your assessment of the economy here are my two basic questions: If the economy is the greatest ever why are so many Americans having trouble making ends meet and why do we have an annual federal deficit north of $1 trillion for the first time in history?
About 45 minutes into the speech Trump talked about his efforts to bring the cost of prescription drugs down concluding with an appeal to Congress to send him legislation on the matter. Many House Democrats, particularly the dressed in white women members, rose and shouted, “HR3” while holding three fingers aloft. They were referring to House Resolution 3 which they passed on December 12, 2019 and has been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk since December 20, 2019 despite having a Republican Senate sponsor (Chuck Grassley of Iowa). I guess since this bill – formally titled The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act – is named after a late congressional hero Trump’s deception was a bridge too far.
The first of many made for TV moments was the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh by First Lady Melania Trump who was seated next to Limbaugh in the gallery. Right wing radio extremist Limbaugh, who like Trump was one of the front men for the birther movement, acted shocked and surprised. In reality news of the presentation leaked at about 2:45 pm; it was about 10pm when the spectacle took place.
A few minutes later Trump proclaimed his support of the Second Amendment at which point Fred Guttenberg shouted out from his seat in the gallery. Security promptly escorted him out. Guttenberg had every right to object to Trump continued gun weakness and deception. His fourteen year-old daughter was murdered in the Parkland mass shooting.
About ten minutes later Trump brought the evening down to the level of a TV prize show. While recognizing a military wife and children (read: exploiting) he had dad appear from behind “Door number 1”. I do not agree with any of the wars we are currently fighting. In fact one of the few things I liked about the 2016 Trump campaign was the pledge to end the foolish wars underway. That entirely aside, all Americans have to respect the warrior. The mission is another story. Nobody cuts their own orders and the overwhelming majority of military personnel would prefer to be at home. To supplement the prize show atmosphere the GOP contingent added a touch of The Jerry Springer Show when they burst out into “USA, USA” cheers. All that was missing was a WWE moment.
There were other exploitations but I’m running out of space and you get the idea by now. Trump started out acting the part of a snake oil salesman and then morphed into a pure entertainer.
The final act starred Pelosi who ripped her copy of the speech in half, page by page on national TV at the conclusion. When questioned by a reported as to her actions her reply was, “It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.”
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