1 About the President’s speech. In yesterday’s Warm-up, I yearned for the honesty of Gerald Ford, who had the courage to by-pass the usual State of the Union happy talk and admit that the nation was not in a good place. Now that President Trump has delivered his first State of the Union message, I have to admit that being positive, or as my late father would have said, quoting his favorite poem, keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, is a good approach too.
The President has managed to find an excellent speechwriter. That is an admirable and responsible thing. These were not, unlike his Inaugural speech was, Trump’s own words, but he gets credit for them, or should, just as much as Ronald Reagan got credit for Peggy Noonan’s soaring rhetoric and Jack Kennedy deserved the accolades he received for Ted Sorenson’s justly famous scripting. [The full text of last night’s speech is here.] The SOTU was also well-delivered. I know a lot of people would say that any speech this President delivers was horrible and he looked like an ass even if it was the equivalent of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and delivered with the skill of Tom Hanks, but that’s their problem. Not to be repetitive, but such people need to understand the effects of confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance if they are going to venture outside their little bubbles and echo chambers.
In fact, this is a good test of your Trump-hating friends’, or your own, integrity. If you can’t concede that the speech was at least pretty good, then you are no longer able to perceive reality where this President is concerned. In no way can that be a good thing. Fix it.
2. The strategy for regaining power: acting like petulant jerks. The State of the Union long ago degenerated into dueling cheering sections, but no previous party has ever decided, like the Democrats last night, to behave like mean, petulant jerks for an entire speech, glowering, refusing to applaud and much of the time refusing even to look at their President as he spoke to the nation. This was just rude and disrespectful. I know the Democratic Party’s hard-core base wants them to be rude and disrespectful (Nancy Pelosi, who can barely get through a public appearance of her own these days without mixing up names and forgetting where she is, referred to the President of the United States as “his slobbering self” before the speech—nice. Her nastiness appeared especially ironic after Rep. Joe Kennedy the III appeared to be drooling during his official response.), but as a rule human beings don’t like or admire jerks, and that was the image the Democrats intentionally projected last night. Good luck with that. Trump somehow gets away with it, which is his unique talent. It is not a recipe for success in the hands of anyone else.
For example, the Democrats reacted with sepulchral silence to this passage:
The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise. So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.
Not applauding that is just foolish. So was the mass Democratic silence to the President announcing, correctly, the historic improvement in black employment during his first year. And behaving as if the President’s endorsement of standing for the National Anthem is offensive is more than foolish, it is insane. There were many other examples. The Democratic Party was actively promoting divisiveness last night. That is not merely unethical. It’s suicidal.
CBS tweeted, “Three in four Americans who tuned in to President Trump’s #SOTU address tonight approved of the speech he gave, CBS News poll finds.” Other surveys had similar results. Since approximately one in three Americans wouldn’t admit that there is anything positive about Donald Trump if he cured cancer, ended war and eliminated the National Debt, what this means is that anyone capable of being fair liked the speech, and watched the Democrats actively shunning the President of the United States, live, on coast-coast TV.
3. And now for something completely different...TCM ran the original 1968 “The Producers” late last night. I hadn’t seen the fil all the way through for decades. It was billed by host Ben Mankiewicz as one of the ten funniest movies of all time, yet I found myself wondering: how can films with gags like the extended presentation of Max’s voluptuous secretary as his “toy,” whose provocatively wiggling booty prompts Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder to stare salaciously, continue to maintain a positive reputation? Lee Meredith, as the secretary, walks around the office in a bikini and when she is told to “work,” begins frugging to rock music with a cretinous expression on her lovely face. This is sexual harassment as humor, except that the employee involved loves it, being nothing but a sexy body with the brain of a bunny rabbit. I bet Harvey Weinstein loved those scenes. Meredith’s role is every bit as anachronistic and hard to watch as old black stereotype routines in films that have been effectively banned from TV. You know, like this–
I’m happy to say that I never, and I mean never, found any humor whatsoever in the old sexist burlesque and vaudeville bits that Mel Brooks was emulating in “The Producers” and later in “Blazing Saddles,” like here…
Can a culture that rejects the marginalization, denigration and sexualization of women in the workplace continue to call films like these hilarious? I wonder. Similarly, I wonder if the Marx Brothers are doomed to oblivion for the same reason. Much of their humor involved Groucho treating women as props and sex objects, and Harpo chasing them. How can those routines continue to be regarded as funny if #MeToo is anything but momentary posturing?