Last night, President Trump spoke for 82 minutes, giving the longest State of the Union Address since Bill Clinton in 2000. But unlike Clinton's, which was 89 minutes and felt like 890, Trump's SOTU sure didn't feel that long. Unless your knees were giving out from giving him standing ovations.
(If you didn’t see it, here are some highlights:
But you really need to watch the whole thing. Trust me, this is YUUUUGE!!! Here it is in its entirety: )
Trump’s speech was strong, clear and masterful. The guests, who included D-Day heroes, Holocaust survivors, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, parents of people slain by criminal illegal aliens, and (take that, Democrats) a heroic ICE agent, were incredibly inspiring.
He did a great job of acting as a statesman, being “Presidential,” and coming across as the adult in a room full of Red Diaper Babies with colic. He probably surprised many viewers who get their impression of him mostly from the relentless, 90%+ negative news coverage.
Trump didn’t just offer his opponents an olive branch, but the whole tree. He gave them a choice of working with him to achieve greatness for America, or bogging down in partisan obstruction and (yes) “ridiculous partisan investigations.” Democrats squirmed uncomfortably throughout, debating whether it would be worse to anger their crazy left base by applauding things that were positive for America and signaling approval for bipartisan maturity, or anger the rest of America by sitting on their hands and coming across as bitter, partisan, far-left obstructionists. Most of them opted for the latter, which served Trump’s purposes perfectly.
(Incidentally, their behavior was easy to predict: Trump also called for bipartisan cooperation in his last SOTU, he got nothing but bullheaded obstruction, and now the House Democratic membership is markedly nastier and crazier.)
Now, we know why he wanted to give this speech in the House, directly to his opponents’ faces, instead of moving it elsewhere, and why he was willing to swallow his pride and be so gracious and humble to Nancy Pelosi to make it happen. To quote “Star Wars,” “It’s a trap!” and the Democrats walked right into it.
Trump listed the astounding economic numbers of his Administration (booming job creation, the return of manufacturing jobs Obama said were never coming back, record low unemployment across all demographics), and forced the Democrats, on national TV, either to applaud his accomplishments or appear to put their party’s lust for power above the good of all Americans. Either way was a win for him. They mostly went with the second, which was an even bigger win for Trump.
How must it have come across to minorities to see all those Democratic women Representatives, dressed in their feminist “resistance” white outfits, sitting and scowling and refusing to applaud record-low unemployment for blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans? When they finally stood and clapped for a great stat about women in the workforce, it looked less like support for women than selfishness – and Trump had forced his biggest critics to give him a standing O on national TV. Brilliant and priceless!
(One wag on Twitter noted that it was not a good look for Democrats to dress all in white and appear to resent minorities getting ahead, which sparked a meme juxtaposing them with a photo of Klansmen in white robes with the caption, “Where have we seen this before?” Brutal.)
Trump made what many are calling the most conservative SOTU since Reagan. He strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to Israel and standing up to Iran. He forcefully defended the right to life, called for a ban on late-term abortion, and denounced the shocking recent endorsements of infanticide of babies that had already been born (shame on the Democrats who sat on their hands through that.)
He even “went there,” as the hip kids say, and blasted socialism right to the faces of Bernie Sanders and his philosophical great-great-granddaughter, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He declared, “America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”
The camera cut to Bernie looking like he’d just downed a mustard milkshake.
Later, AOC tried one of her typically Twitter-ready snarky responses, but it just sounded juvenile and defensive. She claimed she was glad he said that because it showed he’s “scared.”
Well, naturally. Anyone with a brain would be scared of socialism. (Oh, right...sorry.)
AOC actually got her undergrad dorm room fantasies fed back to her twice, with Trump not only declaring that America will never be socialist, but also that he will never allow ICE to be abolished.
The true genius of this speech was that by waiting until he could give it in the House, in front of the most radical, mindlessly obstructionist group of Democrats in history, all Trump had to do was come across as thoughtful, bipartisan and conciliatory; list good news about peace and prosperity; and talk about such issues as national security and protecting the innocent that, until recently at least, were taken for granted as basic values shared by all Americans. He knew that if Democrats (A.) applauded those things, they would be seen applauding him, which would demoralize their Trump-hating base. Or (B.) if they sat on their hands, they would come across as pro-infanticide, pro-open borders, pro-criminals, and against jobs for all Americans, including minorities. (A.) was good for him, (B.) was even better, and they mostly took (B.)
By standing up strongly for time-honored American values, Trump shrewdly established a marker to show Americans who might not pay close attention to the news just how far to the left his opponents had drifted.
There are several ways to tell that this speech was a triumph for Trump, and not just the fact that Nancy Pelosi looked like she was getting a root canal without Novocain while listening to it.
Instant surveys of Americans were off-the-charts. A CBS poll found that 76% of respondents had a positive reaction, with 72% approving of his stance on immigration. CNN’s poll also showed 76% approval, with 59% “strongly approving.” That must’ve been so painful for CNN to report that they had to emphasize that while Americans approved of Trump’s call for bipartisan cooperation, most don’t believe it will happen. Hate to break this to them, but that isn’t necessary a negative comment on Trump. They just watched a bunch of Democrats who were so stubbornly partisan that they couldn’t even applaud a little girl beating cancer or a ban on killing babies if Trump seemed to be in favor of those things.
The talking heads must’ve also realized how effective the speech was because they were reduced to grabbing at straws to try to criticize it. Like furiously trying to compare Trump to Nixon because he called the investigations Democrats want to launch “ridiculous” (hey, at least he didn’t call them “a vast leftwing conspiracy,” which would’ve sounded really Nixonian), or Chris Matthews’ complaining that he didn’t talk about climate change. If the best you can do to knock down his speech is to carp about what he didn’t say, then your tank of vitriol is down to fumes.
Before the speech, Trump’s approval rating in the latest Rasmussen survey was up to 48%. It will be interesting to see where it goes in the next few days.