Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/31/18: The State Of The Union Speech Didn’t Stink Edition

Good Morning.

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?

106 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/31/18: The State Of The Union Speech Didn’t Stink Edition

  1. Joe Kennedy III reminded me of that annoying little twerp in the FIOS commercials. Is this what the Democrats plan to hang their hat on? Talk about division! Oh…right…he never DIRECTLY mentioned Trump’s name.

  2. 1. The speech was good and it showed that Trump has the potential to be better than a twitter twit. Hopefully, he will look at the ratings and see people want more of this. I’m not holding my breath. There were definitely so positive things. I’m happy to see him taking a rather large interest in infrastructure. I remember Jack writing about this a while ago and estimating it was estimated at $1 trillion fixes in the 1980s. Obama really dropped the bomb here with his shovel ready program caving to feminist demands because these would help more male workers.

    I will wait a little bit to review the fact-checking. Politifact is been pulling a lot of strawman arguments lately and I don’t trust them enough to do it on the fly

    3.Well, you know the how the song goes Jack, “Ven you got it, flaunt it.”

        • It was a cheap shot, I shouldn’t have made it. Though in fairness, even as Ben Shapiro is one of my favorite commentators, I like to poke jabs at him as I am amazed a 12 year old boy could not only be wildly successful in political analysis but also father a growing family…

          I think I get a pass here…I suffered to a degree from baby-face for a good portion of my life.

      • “I was just amazed how the Democrats managed to get a 14 year old elected to the House…”

        What amazed me was that the party of “diversity” would offer up possibly the most privileged white-bread manikin imaginable…and from a political “dynasty” of woman-abusers and criminals. (Yes, I think referencing his family is fair game in this case, as that is the only reason he was up there in the first place.)

        • Ann Althouse was the first one to pick up on the fact that young Kennedy was standing in front of a car with a hood up, the distress signal, in front of a sign that said “Fall River,” making her think about cars falling into rivers.

          I really do think Democrats have had a mass breakdown or something.

          • Alternate theory: they believe their own press, and since we have to ACT like Teddy was innocent, no one remembers what he DID.

            Or maybe someone with a sly side maneuvered them into this optic.

            Maybe they thought it would be funny, and that most of the peons (lesser Americans) would never catch the joke: we got away with electing a murderer!

    • Thicker than the drool at the corners of his mouth. He looked like a kid in over his head and knowing it. The Spanish was a fail, same as Chuck Schumer’s attempt at Italian Columbus Day 2013 (he tried to say “oggi siamo tutti Italiani” and sounded terrible).

  3. The WaPo’s list of winners and losers does sort of admit that it was a good speech, but faults the president for running too long, complaining that Trump didn’t consider viewers with young children (not his concern) and of course said that the truth was one of the losers. However, it also threw some backhanded shade at the Democrats who boycotted by saying that bipartisanship was a loser and why.

    The looks on the Democrats’ faces were priceless. Nancy Pelosi looked like she had just unexpectedly bitten into a lemon, and Bernie Sanders forced himself to applaud at one point, but looked like he had just swallowed a turd. It’s interesting that this was the first time in a while that almost all of the SCOTUS attended – except the notorious RBG – who both loathes the president and knows her days on that court are numbered.

    The president also had someone very good looking for pawns…sorry guests to refer to. You CAN’T argue with Coast Guard pilots, firemen, soldiers under fire, defectors from tyranny who were badly wounded in the process, or families who have had kids murdered by illegal aliens. The fact that Droolin’ Joe (already a hashtag) spouted off FIRST about Me Too, Black Lives Matter, and all the other protest topics that result in marches and protests that do not a damn thing but make people late for work, and only AFTER that talked about the protectors and helpers in society like they were an afterthought should tell you all you need to know about where the Democrats’ thinking is at.

  4. “The Democratic Party was actively promoting divisiveness last night. That is not merely unethical. It’s suicidal.”

    Dunno about that, Jack. Suicidal implies that the party will end up destroying itself through these tactics. Only the upcoming elections can prove that out, and it might prove quite the opposite, with seats opening up all over the country and hatred for the president energizing the Democrats. What I might buy, though, is that the party is setting up the possibility that it will shoot itself in the foot and blow the opportunity to take back Congress now, or hit the wall afterward and not know what the hell to do once they have, since simply obstructing the president at every turn is not good for the country and could backfire.

    • Once the Democrat’s infantile conduct at the State of the Union Address is forgotten by this Friday by those who watched it (and never even noticed by those who didn’t watch), their conduct will be immaterial to the elections in November.

    • I’ll go down on the record that the entire behavior of Democrats since the election has been self-destructive. If they do well, they would have done better without the jerk and hate act. What is happening is that they have trapped themselves with “the resistance” mentality, in policy, in image, in everything. My bet is that they lose ground in then Senate, and that their pick-ups in the House are underwhelming.

            • I think the blue wave narrative is self serving delusion among the left’s political class and media punditry. Wishful thinking. It’s less likely than Hillary winning in 2016 in a historic landslide. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

            • Nope. I am assuming that the Democrats keep up what they have been doing. There will be no substantial results from the Mueller investigation, except that Obama and the Democrats attempts to rig the election by rigging the investigation of Hillary will make it even more obvious how corrupt that party is. The business, and jobs boom will make voting Democrats look crazy to anyone but socialists, and there will be backlash against the Democrats handling of the immigration issue. And if someone breaks Trump’s thumbs and he stops tweeting stupid stuff, the GOP’s hold on the House might not weaken at all.

              • IF that were to occur…then what from the “active resistance”? I mean…you don’t amp people’s energy up for a release in their favor…then there is no release. That energy WILL release.

                We see this time and again like in the various statements regarding the Cop v Black Person shootings… Everyone was amped up by the so-called responsible informers of our society to be ready for “justice” be ready for “getting your way”…only to see the various Cops acquitted or charges dropped.

                What followed all that energy being pent up?

                Riots and violence.

                How would this not play out exactly the same later this year if the Senate or the House DIDN’T flip?

                • Oh, NOW you see why I posted about Greenstein’s dark vision! Because I am certain that if, especially after the news media promises a “blue wave,” Republicans prevail again, there will be riots and violence and outright calls for revolution. I just heard Dershowitz say that both parties need to neutralize their radical wing so the moderates and non-crazies can talk to each other. There IS no moderate wing anymore in the Democratic Party, just a few idealistic naifs who will watch all the burning and wonder what went wrong.

                  • Unfortunately, Jack, you are correct. This emerged right around the time Leon Panetta wrote his book. There are no more guys like him, or Sam Nunn, or Henry J. “Scoop” Jackson. There aren’t even genuine peace lovers like Dennis Kucinich. There are only bullies like Booker, bitches in sheep’s clothing like Warren, and whackos like Sanders. They may not be able to realize that playing with absolutists like A World Without Police and Antifa is playing with fire and courting the chance they will turn on you if they think you sold them out.

                    • Come on, Steve. The Dems have their latest Kennedy doing his impersonation of Howdy Doody. Joe Kennedy III. Amazing.

                    • How about Walter Denton from the old Our Miss Brooks series? Those of you who are not fortunate to reside in Massachusetts have missed out on all the pre-game show time for “Little Joe” as the newshounds rounded up their sound bits. Little Joe has inherited Teddy’s inability to say a complete sentence without a plethora of “ahs.” At least he has eliminated the “you knows.”

                • So we vote under threat of violence? This isn’t Venezuela, where a Chavista stinking of beer and rum would threaten you if you didn’t vote for whatever el presidente wanted. Ordinary Americans are unlikely to be ok with more and bigger riots and are likely to fight back.

                  • Absolutely not. I wouldn’t have election results swayed by fears of violence at ALL. I’m just pondering…where does the “active resistance” go to from here? When you seemingly have exhausted your “limit” of opposition…what’s the next step to demonstrate your dissatisfaction with our Republic?

                    I hate the notion of real violence like a Civil War…but I will say this…if certain radical elements really want it to go that way, I’d rather have it NOW than Later so at least my kids can have their young adult lives begin AFTER the mess is cleaned up and not have to be the one’s to deal with the mess.

                    • I’ve said something like this many times, but not quite this way. There isn’t going to be an actual Civil war with a firing on some installation, set-piece battles, and a final victory one way or another. The resistance simply doesn’t have the hardware or the access at high levels for that. What you will see is portion of the U.S., especially the cities, become The Troubles writ large. You will see demonstrations that are just set-ups for riots, you will see bombings, and you will see violent ambushes, both of law enforcement and of those who do not fit in with the liberals. In the 1960s we weren’t quite ready for that. Federal law enforcement and the military (who have more authority to help since 9/11) have learned a thing or three since then. Even so, it’s dangerous to take on an enemy who knows every alley, every abandoned building, every dead end in an urban environment. It might reach the level of the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-22, where masters of asymmetrical warfare fought the army that had defeated the Kaiser to a standstill. At that point it’s a question of whose resolve gives first. Either the American people will decide this fire needs to be stamped out come hell or high water, or they will decide that the violence needs to end, whatever the cost.

                    • I don’t see a shooting war or protracted street violence. I see endless intellectual warfare in the academy and the media, which may very well prevail. But I don’t see the Resistance acting like the French Resistance or the Italian Partisans. I think that threat, like the Arab Street, is terribly over-blown. But the battle will be lost in the academy and the media. The offensive there is relentless.

  5. “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.”

    Selection bias though, right?

    How many people flat out didn’t watch it because they hate Trump so much they cannot get past that. Something tells me huge swathes of the Left didn’t even watch…leaving generally people who are going to be more amenable to Trump if not already supportive.

      • I mean, I didn’t get to catch most of it…I’ll have to watch it today…I find it very inconsiderate that the Government plans these things during bed time for our 3 and 5 year old…

      • “…and to get the jokes when Colbert et al panning the speech.”

        I think you give too much credit to his fans. I think at this point in the game, most of their thought processes go like this: progressive funny man said something and his facial expression tells me I should laugh, he said something disparaging about people I disagree with politically and I don’t know what it’s about, but I do know they are so pathetic that anything they say or do must be laughably hysterical, so if progressive funny man says so, I will laugh, because hey, we all know those guys on the right are just ridiculous buffoons anyway.

        • Underestimating one’s ideological adversaries is ill-advised. This is how the democrats managed to lose to Reagan, Bush and Trump. Better to over-estimate their intelligence, as hard as it may be in this case.

          • Well, when every portrayal of those who disagree with you in every medium is that they are stupid, loutish, racist, sexist, overweight, unrefined buffoons who can’t keep their hands off anything in a skirt, and the bigger the age gap the better, what do you expect?

    • I did not watch because I knew the Democrats hate and distain, not just for Trump but for anyone who supports him, would be on display and it would make me madder than an old wet hen if I watched. The Bible tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger so I chose to avoid anything that would make me not listen to that wise counsel. It is sad that hatred of one man and a failure to get their candidate elected would cause a group of elected officials prefer to see him fail than see our nation succeed. Their hatred and divisiveness are why I chose to not watch the speech but instead wait for reports from Jack Marshall and other unbiased avenues. I am confident of Jack’s analysts being honest, unbiased, and ethical.

  6. And here’s to you obscure, baby-faced, fourth generation Kennedy,
    Our party pathetically turns its lonely eyes to you,
    Woo woo woo.

  7. I think a very valid argument can be made that Mel Brooks was satirizing, in the very best sense of the word, entertainment guys’ obsession with shiksas. He was pointing out the awfulness of the Harvey Weinsteins of the entertainment business before the metoo generation was a glint in their parents’ eyes. Remember, Mel Kaminsky was married to Anna Maria Louisa Italiano from 1964 until her death in 2005. If you discount those scenes, you’re missing the point. You might as well take out the satire of racism from Blazing Saddles and eviscerate that movie in its entirety as well.

    The producers were grade A jerks in every respect. Just like Harvey and all the rest are grade A jerks. They screw women and they screw their investors. That’s the entire point of the movie. Which is a great movie.

  8. I watched the SOTU last night and then the commentary on various channels. Can someone explain to me how it was divisive.

    I did not hear divisiveness but if someone could enlighten me I am willing to listen.

    • When someone who is so hyperpartisan that they believe the only unity to be found is found in full agreement with the hyperpartisan…then any call for compromise IS divisive.

    • Gone are the days of the unifying “meta’s” that America once had…those overarching non-negotiables that we all held in common, that leaders could comfortably appeal to knowing everyone believed them. No, the Left is so far off the reservation in their conduct of their Cold Civil War that even appeals to our common American culture are despicable.

      • It’s not the right that’s turning against the flag and the anthem and the emergency services. It’s not the right that’s putting those here illegally ahead of its own people. It’s not the right that wants to trash history by yanking down statues that have stood for decades but suddenly became a problem and declaring certain groups now out of favor and others in. As far as the left is concerned, a common “American” culture is politically incorrect.

        • Tex and Steve,

          I agree. I was trying to get comments from those who believe it was divisive in which they give specifics as to how they see it as divisive.

          I cannot develop counterarguments to terms such as divisive or labels such as racist without those using them defining what they mean.

          • Elementary, my dear Chris. Anything that’s from a non-Democrat is divisive. Anything that’s from a white person is racist.

              • That’s the progressive lexicon:

                Compromise = you give me what I want, you get nothing

                Negotiation = what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is negotiable (although that’s better than marital property, which is what’s hers is hers, and what’s yours is hers too) .

  9. I wonder how many objective and rational Democrats out there just had their personal politicometer’s notch a few more degrees towards Moderate or Libertarian just on pure Cognitive Dissonance regarding their Party’s behavior in the Chamber last night?

      • Did anyone notice Nancy Pelosi grabbing Trump’s sleeve as he entered the chamber and requesting that he consider a petition to recall her brother, Publius, from exile?

        What was that all about?

        • She momentarily forgot who she was, and asked him. He was nice to give her the right answer: “You’re Nancy Pelosi, and you have to act like a bitter asshole all night.” If he had said, “You are Carmen Mirnda!” it could have been exciting last night.

          • I hope my cultural reference wasn’t too vague…

            Side note: would it be ad hominem to post images of each Democrat’s scowling face? Because I don’t think so…their scowls literally NEVER went away.

            Cory Booker looked like an exceptionally stupid jerk last night.

    • If my social media is any indicator, none. I’ve heard nothing but bashing from my liberal friends so far, from actual substantive criticism “that fourth pillar was a pillar too far” to just tripe “the only words I wanted him to say were “I resign.””

    • “objective and rational Democrats”

      That animal was placed on the endangered species list last year, and its numbers are dwindling alarmingly.

  10. Jack,

    Do you plan a more thorough post regarding the specifics of the State of the Union speech? I’m certain there’s plenty of room to discuss the merits / honesty of some of the particulars so this isn’t just a big Congressional-Democrat-bash fest (even though they earned it).

  11. I agree about not finding much humor in the scenes you specifically offered, but I think most of the Marx brothers material is _drop dead hilarious_.

    I’ve never given much thought to why they are different but instinctually I do think they are.

  12. Thanks to Jack and to all commenters on this topic. You have briefed me well on what I missed. I enjoyed “How the Universe Works” – was treated to descriptions of dwarf galaxies colliding with the Milky Way. A sort of cosmic divisiveness, followed by terrible impacts, followed by a new era of unity. Where are the blog’s familiar left-leaning commenters?

  13. The part of the speech you give as an example of where the Democrats should have applauded (“The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud…Americans are dreamers too.”) sounds like a nice bit of patriotism, but in the larger context it’s part of Trump’s lead-in to his restrictionist immigration policy, which the Democrats disagree with. There’s no obligation to applaud a policy you oppose just because the President says something nice in the middle of it.

      • It’s funny to hear someone refer to “enforcing immigration laws” and “having borders” as “restrictionist immigration policy.”

        It’s funny to see you constantly strawman objections to Trump’s restrictionist immigration policy by pretending his policy is nothing but “enforcing immigration laws” and “having borders.”

        • That’s what it is, Chris. We are talking about what the President described last night.

          The Four pillars that are deemed so noxious, as described by the President, are:

          Here are the four pillars of our plan: The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age. That covers almost three times more people than the previous administration covered. (Applause.) Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States over a 12-year period. (Applause.)

          The second pillar fully secures the border. (Applause.) That means building a great wall on the southern border, and it means hiring more heroes, like CJ, to keep our communities safe. (Applause.) Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country, and it finally ends the horrible and dangerous practice of catch and release. (Applause.)

          The third pillar ends the visa lottery, a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people. (Applause.) It’s time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system, one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country. (Applause.)

          The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. (Applause.) Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. (Applause.) This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security and for the future of America.

          There are no logical or principled arguments against keeping the lottery and extended chain migration, which abdicate the government’s duty to oversee immigration and allow in who the government feels will benefit the nation. That is not “restrictive.” That is called having standards. I guess to some standards of any kind are restrictive: Mark is a libertarian; I get that. But I do not consider that a rational, responsible or practical position.

          • There are no logical or principled arguments against keeping the lottery and extended chain migration

            Certainly you meant to write “There are no logical or principled arguments for keeping the lottery and extended chain migration,” right?

          • Anyway, Trump lied about the visa lottery and chain migration in the portion you cited.

            Contrary to Trump’s repeated claims, the visa lottery does not “randomly” hand out lawful permanent residency visas or green cards.

            The State Department runs a computerized drawing from entries each year. To diversify the immigrant pool, foreign nationals from countries with low numbers of immigrants to the U.S. are allowed to enter the lottery — hence the name, diversity visa lottery program.

            Entrants must have a high school education or have worked for two years in a skilled job. Their names are vetted and checked against crime and terrorism databases. Each of the 50,000 lottery winners annually is interviewed at a local U.S. consulate before being allowed to enter the country.


            In other words, the visa lottery is merit-based, and it is a lie to say that it is done “without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people.”

            He also lied when he said chain migration allows “a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”

            But I guess Democrats should have applauded for blatant lies, because Trump is president and refusing to clap while he tells lies is rude or something.

            I’m not even going to address the “great wall” stuff. You can’t not know how stupid that is.

          • Whatever. We can talk about the merits of the policies some other time. It doesn’t change the facts that Trump proposed restricting immigration even further than it is today, and that the Democrats don’t support those restrictions. Which brings me back to my original point that they have no ethical duty to applaud someone for proposing policies they don’t support.

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