Without always succeeding, my general goal is to make the subject of Sunday’s posting the big political story of the prior week. This week there was so much to choose from. Somehow I selected President Trump’s Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress. Effectively it was a State of The Union address without officially being so. The tradition of a new President addressing a joint session about a month after taking office was started by Ronald Reagan. Let’s explore.
I will give Trump high marks on the first five minutes or so of his performance (and that is exactly what it was). He handled the niceties well enough and included a statement both outlining and condemning recent hate crimes in America. As time went on for the most part he stuck to the script – literally. In other words he read (reasonably well) from the teleprompter most of the evening.
By the nine minute mark he was back in malarkey mode uttering his pet applause line, “Make America great again.” Admittedly Trump is a good salesman if you measure a salesperson by their ability to peddle B. S. Since he is now America’s salesman-in-chief what kind of line is that? For that matter when did America cease to be great?
The speech was peppered with falsehoods. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post outlined 14 in his fact checker column. Trump again painted a bleak picture of America calling it an, “Environment of lawless chaos.” What America is he talking about and how does that line sell America?
I don’t know who wrote the speech but Trump either adlibbed or had a hand in it. We had a “Great, great” and a “Big, big”. He speaks more like a grammar school dropout than an Ivy League grad.
There was plenty to make Bubba open another beer at home and cheer. Most of it is implausible or impossible. Trump spoke of bringing back all the factories and mines along with the jobs that come with them. Take a good look at the calendar Mr. President. While I think we could do a bit better job on trade and I actually like some of your ideas on the topic (in principle) the jobs of the ‘60’s aren’t coming back. We are in a global economy that is much more technologically advanced than the one we had in the’60’s. All your talk of isolationism plays well in the Rust Belt but if you really think you can pull off what you are promising you are living in a fantasy world! You will keep Bubba for some time yet and will actually gain some support among the greedy in the upper crust. Your policies benefit the latter because they set up for the oligopoly of fascism. Of course in the process they exacerbate one of America’s biggest problems: inequity.
Trump again claimed to have taken over a mess. He craftily spoke of 94 million American who are out of the labor force. Most people equated that with unemployment. In order to justify Trump’s number you have to include the retired, students and the disabled. When we talk of them we are not talking about active job seekers ready to start work tomorrow. This lie has been long debunked but there it was a feature in Tuesday night’s speech. Perhaps it is just an alternate fact I don’t understand.
The speech had more than a dash of Republican orthodoxy (cutting government regulations and taxes). This is one of the promises Trump made that he will achieve. Therefore I feel confident in forecasting lower taxes on the wealthy, cuts in benefits for the masses, more pollution and even greater income disparity. How do you come out a winner in that deal Bubba?
The most moving moment of the evening was when Trump singled out the widow of Navy Seal Ryan Owens. There is now doubt her late husband served bravely and should be honored for his service. I also have absolutely no doubt that the she was sincerely grieving. As it morphed from tribute to exploitation, the moment took me back to my days in Buffalo where being a Bills fan was all but compulsory. The New England Patriots (formerly Boston Patriots) were always on the schedule for a home and home. Occasionally when the game was in Massachusetts and the Pats were behind someone would mysteriously wheel Darryl Stingely out on the field to rev up the crowd. Stingely, a former Patriot receiver, became a quadriplegic and was confined to a wheel chair as a result of a hit he took from Oakland Raider defensive back Jack Tatum. The Patriots were exploiting a cripple as Trump was exploiting a military widow. Trump even bragged that some sort of record had been set for applause during a Congressional address. Mr. Trump, despite your efforts to divert responsibility it was your decision that sent the widow’s husband to his death and I expected you to have more respect for her than to use her to get ratings points! This is reality, not reality TV. You should be ashamed of yourself!
While the above may be the moment of the speech, a program that was unveiled may be what it is remembered for. Trump announced the VOICE (Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement) program to an audible groan. This will be a new government agency whose only apparent job is to compile a list of crimes committed by what the Trump administration calls illegal aliens. (The accuracy of this list should be interesting.) It will please Bubba and appears to be modeled after a Breitbart feature on black crimes.
This was actually Trump’s second best political speech – the best being his 3am acceptance speech. How low can expectations get?
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