President Trump delivered the State of The Union Tuesday night, fresh off getting his ass handed to him in the government shutdown by Nancy Pelosi. Before the event, cameras panned around the room to show Democratic women wearing white as a tribute to suffragettes, while the president was his usual hue of orange. The theme of the speech was “unity.” In the spirit of unity, the president accused Democrats of murdering children, continued his calls to build the Great Wall of White Nationalism, and insisted those pesky investigations into his litany of crimes and ethical violations were bad for the country.
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good,” Trump stated toward the beginning of his speech without a hint of irony. The politics of revenge and retribution describes what he campaigned on and how he governs. It’s no coincidence that the kiss of death for any policy in this administration is how closely it is associated with Obama.
“This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, in some cases years and years waiting— not right,” continued Trump, probably prompting Merrick Garland to punch out his TV.
Then in true Nixon-esque fashion, Trump blasted the investigations against him. “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous, partisan investigations,” he said. “If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just does not work that way. We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.” In other words, if you support the rule of law, you’re with the terrorists.
Democrats were quick to call out this ridiculous notion. “Sorry, sir. But Article 1 of the Constitution is the legislative branch. And it has the responsibility to exercise oversight of the other branches of government,” Pelosi’s team tweeted during the address. “We would be delinquent in our duties if we failed to provide the necessary oversight.”
He then took credit for criminal justice reform, which Democrats did virtually all the legwork on. He called out two of his State of The Union guests, Alice Johnson, who was pardoned after the intervention of Kim Kardashian West, and Matthew Charles, the first person released as a result of the criminal justice reform law. It was a nice touch from a man who once took out a full-page newspaper ad calling for the death penalty against minority teens who were wrongfully convicted of murder.
Meanwhile, Trump is still pushing for his wall. “The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans,” the president lied while announcing he was deploying nearly 4,000 troops to the southern border. He highlighted his imaginary threat by bringing the families of murder victims whose attackers just happen to be murder victims. This emotional appeal belies the fact that undocumented immigrants are less likely to be criminals than the native-born population.
The president went on about his replacement to NAFTA and asked for expanded powers to impose sanctions, both of which are unlikely to go anywhere in a divided Congress. Democrats are opposed to some of the environmental and labor provisions in his proposed deal, and they definitely don’t want to give him more tariff powers.
Trump glossed over infrastructure before saying some positive stuff about healthcare. He promised to take on the drug companies. “It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place.” the president said, echoing Bernie Sanders.”I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients.” His proposals could be a tough sell even within his own party, which is essentially a wholly-owned subsidiary of the health insurance companies. He then pushed for more funding to fight HIV/AIDS and childhood cancer.
Without pausing between talking about fighting childhood cancer, the president expressed support for the kind of disastrous education policies pushed by Betsy DeVos. “To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children,” Trump opined. He can expect a fight from Democrats who support public schools. He also reiterated his support for paid family leave, despite doing virtually nothing to pass it during the last two years.
Appealing to his evangelical base, Trump lashed out at pro-choice legislators. “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth,” the president claimed, undermining the facade of bipartisanship. He called on Congress to pass new abortion restrictions. However, the vast sea of newly-elected women lawmakers will likely block his attempts to turn back the clock on reproductive rights.
Trump touched on foreign policy, bragging about the toughness of the military under him. He defended his decision to pull out of a treaty with Russia limiting both sides missile capabilities, claiming the Russians were breaking the rules and that China had to be a part of any new deal, which is unlikely to happen. Most laughably, he claimed only he could have brought peace between the U.S. and North Korea. “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” he claimed.
The president then repeated his call for regime change in Venezuela, a country ruled by an anti-democratic socialist leader. “We condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair,” he said, echoing a right-wing talking point. “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” he continued, taking a stab at democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
He ended his speech talking about the Middle East. He says he plans to reduce our involvement in Afghanistan and Syria but gave no hard deadlines on when he would do that or metrics on how many would come home. Shifting to Iran, the president praised his decision to pull out of a nuclear deal. “My administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror — the radical regime in Iran,” he said. “It is a radical regime. They do bad, bad things.” He also condemned anti-semitism both abroad and at home.
The speech lasted over an hour and twenty minutes, Much like this presidency, it should have ended a lot sooner.