As I start this article reviewing Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address I know I will have one major regret; I will not be able to cover everything I would like to because so much bad was packed into a single speech. That said, let’s explore.
Before I get into what was covered I’d like to list a few pressing American political issues that were not covered: mass incarceration, social inequity/injustice, consumer protection, racism, prejudice, bigotry, xenophobia, domestic violence, sexual harassment, women’s reproductive rights, Russian meddling in our elections, domestic terrorism and white supremacy. I’m sure there were more; those were just the ones I could think of off the top of my head.
Trump started out the evening by twice leading the crowd in applause for himself. If he proved nothing else last night Trump proved that he loves Trump, (as he always calls himself). Just to make certain his enablers knew which lines were the applause lines, Trump personally led the clapping. I found this particularly annoying because the microphone picked up his clapping. Obviously his ego loved the clapping because when he wasn’t talking about how great he is (regardless of whether the illustration was true or not) he called out a seeming plethora of guests to garner even more applause which he vigorously joined in on. The crowd even broke into the USA, USA chant twice ala The Jerry Springer Show. We have certainly descended a long way from the cerebral Barack Obama!
Last year in his first address to Congress (technically not a State of the Union address) as in his inauguration speech he painted a gloomy picture of America. A year later in bragging about “his economy” you would think we had some dramatic economic turnaround. He summed up a series of lies and extreme stretches of the truth with, “There has never been a better moment to live the American dream.” Mr. Trump, remember nightmares are also dreams. George W. Bush might have termed a lot of Trump’s examples of success as fuzzy math. Any honest evaluation of the current American economy would call it an extension of the Obama recovery. If you don’t believe me simply look at some line graphs.
Trump called that we (under his more than implied leadership) are creating a “Safe, strong and proud America”. America has been both safe and strong my entire lifetime. I feel and have always felt both proud and fortunate to be an American. I have disagreed with several presidents during my lifetime. Trump is the first one that I am ashamed of on a daily basis, and I’m far from alone.
There was plenty of right wing red meat in the speech. That is to be expected of a State of the Union from a Republican. The part of that gambit I found the most revolting was when Trump played the “we love our vets” card. Trump is the guy who would have swindled the veterans out of a $1 million donation pledge had it not been for David Farenthold’s Pulitzer Prize winning reporting in the Washington Post.
Trump again talked of the great trade deals he is going to negotiate. Where are they? How are you going to negotiate them via isolationism?
Trump is asking Congress to give Cabinet secretaries final and unconstrained firing authority. Do you want Rick Perry to be able to fire any EPA scientist or inspector without process? How about Betsy DeVos being able to walk into any school in America and unilaterally fire any teacher or administrator?
Trump talked about a $1.5 trillion dollar infrastructure package. Interestingly that is the same amount of money he just gave away to himself and a few other very wealthy Americans (along with wealthy foreign investors) via the Trump Tower Tax Cut. The reality is that after the unneeded Trump Tower Tax Cut we can’t afford the needed infrastructure package. Not to mention the challenges with local and state government involvement along with the pitfalls of involving private business.
He gave a shout out to “Beautiful, clean coal”. First off clean coal doesn’t exist and second you won’t save an industry by adding 500 jobs a year.
He outlined a four pillar immigration plan which had a poison pill for any position you have on the topic. His fourth pillar – which he calls defending the nuclear family – actually drew either spontaneous hisses or boos (I’m not certain which). I expect to write much about this boondoggle in the not too distant future. If this is Trump’s idea of a compromise deal then his idea of putting out a fire must be to pour gasoline on it.
Trump declared his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a great achievement in international diplomacy and threatened to cut off foreign aid to any country that disagrees with us. Wow!
In a carefully worded statement he implied to have defeated the terrorists in the Middle East in this past year. That is wonderful news except for one nagging detail; it’s false.
It’s about time to wrap up this article. My dilemma is how I sum up Trump in a single phrase. Is it Liar-in Chief? Or is it Hypocrite-in- Chief? Perhaps it is Bragger-in-Chief. One thing is certain, he loves applause.
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