Aside from the years I was coaching and had a game, scouting assignment or recruiting trip that conflicted with it, I can’t remember missing the live broadcast of the State of the Union Address in my adult life. That takes in presidents of both parties; ones I liked and ones I disliked. In recent years I would listen to the speech live (often following along on a leaked transcript) take a very brief break at its conclusion and then write making certain I was posted for the 1am deadline. I’m not certain exactly what I will be doing late Tuesday night but one thing I am certain of is that I will not be writing a review of the State of the Union. In fact there is a better than even chance I will not watch it live. Allow me to explain.
If I had to encapsulate my reasoning in a single word, that word would be: lies. Based on past performance – especially that of the recent past – I’m certain Donald Trump’s speech will mainly consist of a collection of lies. Many of them will be of the long debunked (but still believed by Bubba) variety. Facts do not matter in the Donald Dome. Stephen Miller will be the primary speech writer so we may be treated to one or more new lies.
Normally I would feel sorry for the fact checkers because they need to debunk the lies, write an article and file ASAP. However with Trump and some preparation their jobs are easier than they at first appear to be. All they have to do is have a listing of his recent and oft repeated lies, along with the refuting facts, at the ready and most of their work is already done.
The biggest possible surprise is whether or not Trump will use the opportunity to declare a national emergency. I would wager he won’t. The biggest reason is that his ego might not be able to take the reaction of the assembled members of Congress including a good number of Republicans. If reporting is correct, Mitch McConnell has already warned Trump that the declaration of a national emergency to build his wall would not be embraced by most Republican members of Congress. The other reason is that Trump wants to use the threat (which could be idle, though I think not) of a national emergency as what he considers leverage in “negotiating” with Congress. Along those lines I expect him to threaten to shut down the government again if the Congressional Committee currently working on the issue doesn’t give him his way.
What will be interesting about this State of the Union are the reactions of the assembled in the House Chamber. My evil angel imagines itself as a member of Congress with an air horn who would let out a blast at each Trump lie (or at least the ones it immediately knew to be a lie). Of course that would be disrespectful and distractive. Disrespecting Trump could be excused perhaps some would claim even well deserved. I’m “old school” and feel you earn respect. Disrespecting your peers and the office of President are two other things. From a practical standpoint it might seem like you were watching a broadcast network’s televising of a foul mouthed comedian. (Except with the seven second delay bleeping we usually know what the dirty word was anyway.)
I didn’t watch the Super Bowl or Trump’s accompanying press interview. Predictably it was full of lies. Is it reasonable to expect much else from Trump on Tuesday? I think, not. By all reports the game was basically a dud as was the halftime show; what makes you think the State of the Union Address will be much different.
I’m not certain exactly what I’ll be doing Tuesday night in the earlier part of the evening. In the late part I’ll be getting a start on a good night’s sleep. Wednesday I’m scheduled to volunteer at a local high school where I’ll interact with a group of high school seniors. I’m not planning on telling any lies; unlike Trump I respect my fellow Americans.
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