The text of the speech is here.
1. As I mentioned at the end of the previous post, my professional assessment, as a speech coach and a stage director, is that Trump’s delivery–timing, pacing, energy, focus, expressiveness, emphasis, technique–was excellent. Like other politicians (and me, frankly) the President is best, most relaxed, most persuasive and likable, when he is speaking extemporaneously. This time, though the speech was obviously scripted, he delivered it like his more familiar riffs.
And he has improved over his term in office. So many POTUSes have not.
2. As for content, I saw the speech described as “Reaganesque.” That’s high praise, but not far off. There were no ringing catch phrases, but the most important feature was that the speech was positive, optimistic, and upbeat. This was especially remarkable because many expected the President to be combative and defiant, and to directly address his impeachment. Not doing so was wise, and indeed ethical. Living well is the best revenge, and the President’s recitation of his administration’s achievements, no matter how the factcheckers spin them—it’s Trump, so we assume hyperbole—was a virtuoso dismantling of Big Lie #5: “Everything is Terrible.”
It’s not terrible, of course, far from it, and the false narratives constantly repeated by the Democratic candidates about how the middle and lower classes weren’t benefiting were belied by Trump’s statistics asNancy Pelosi stared.
3. The repeat stunt of having all the female members of Congress on the Democratic side wear white was juvenile, incoherent and dehumanizing. I was reminded of the sperms in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.” Whatever their chant was, it didn’t work. The President deserves ethics points for specifically condemning late term abortion in front of this group, and featuring a little girl born at 23 weeks was a powerful visual aid.
Most Americans do not approve of late term abortions, and the device of making Democrats explicitly show their disapproval of Trump’s vow to stop it exposes a gaping ethics black hole on the Left.
4. At times I wish Ronald Reagan had never introduced the manipulative technique of using guests in the audience for applause and heart-rending moments, but I have to admit President Trump used it like no one before him, shamelessly but effectively. I just hope nobody tries to top it, because that was my limit, and perhaps a bit over.
There was the African-American boy who wants to join the Space Force, and his 100 year-old Tuskegee airman great-grandfather, in uniform, having just been promoted to general by Trump. There was the young African American girl who had been denied her application for a tax credit scholarship to attend a private school in Philadelphia because the state’s Democratic governor had vetoed a funding bill. The President told her she would get her scholarship after all, as she and her mother beamed. There was the new President of Venezuala, symbolizing a capitalist rescuer for a nation wrecked by socialism. Rush Limbaugh, recently diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, appeared genuinely overcome when Mrs. Trump awarded him the Medal of Freedom on the spot. Also on the spot was a surprise reunion between a military wife and her soldier husband, back from deployment.
Great drama, great sentimentality, great showmanship. It was a combination of Oprah, Maury, and “Queen for a Day,” but schmaltz works, and the President proved himself a master of it.
5. Pelosi’s guests included Fred Guttenberg, the father of a high school freshman killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He got himself removed from the audience by shouting something about his daughter as the President pledged to preserve the Second Amendment. Using the victim of tragedies as political props is an objectionable stunt (Trump did this too, with Kelli Hake and her son; Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake, was killed in Iraq, a victim of the late Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani. Another guest was the brother of Rocky Jones, the victim of an illegal immigrant in Tulare County, California, and the parents of an ISIS victim, but Trump’s guests didn’t disrupt the event. They had also lost loved ones to bad people, just like Guttenberg, but do not advocate taking away law-abiding people’s rights in their grief.
6. The guests as well as the President’s self-promoting and policy pronouncements repeatedly put Pelosi and the Democrats in an impossible Cognitive Dissonance Scale bind. Here’s that familiar diagram again:
The President, whom the Democrats treat as a virtual Anti-Christ (See Big Lie #3: “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster”), is at the dead bottom of the scale. Unfortunately for them, the booming economy is at the top for most sane people, and Trump, being linked to that, is pulled up the scale by his connection to something overwhelmingly regarded as unequivocally good. However, if the Democrats applauded, cheered or stood for the economy or anything else that most Americans would regard as positive, virtuous or praiseworthy developments, policies or people, that would mean participating in the President’s enhancement on the scale.
The simple and decent solution, of course, would be to behave as Americans rather than partisans, treat the President as the President and not some kind of a virus on this one special night, and cheer along with people who don’t allow irrational hate to make them take absurd positions. This is something the Democrats cannot do, however, especially in the middle of a sham impeachment. So they stood stony faced while Republicans applauded…
- “We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.”
- “Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century.”
- “African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”
- “Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low.”
- “More people are working now than at any time in the history of our country — 157 million people at work.”
…and so on, all through the speech. “Why do the Democrats hate that America is doing so well?” chided more than one conservative commentator. When Rush Limbaugh opined, in 2008, that he wanted newsly elected President Barack Obama to fail he was widely condemned by Democrats and, among others, me. Appearing to disapprove when a Republican President succeeds is just a mirror image of the exact same repulsive sentiment.
7. On the topic of Limbaugh: it would have been gracious and appropriate for Democrats to at least politely applaud a man probably dying of cancer and openly weeping as he was bestowed the Medal of Freedom.
8. Reps. Rashida “Impeach the motherfucker!” Tlaib (D-MI), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Big Lie #2. “Trump is not a legitimate President.”all performed a grandstanding walk-out when the President cited the fact that “Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.” President Obama, had claimed increases in the number of Americans on food stamps as an achievement. This is a philosophical disagreement, but when you assume that any position not congruent with yours is unconscionable, this is how you act. “This man’s presidency is a national tragedy,” Pascrell tweeted. Well, the way the “resistance” and Democrats have ripped the nation apart trying to sabotage this man’s Presidency is a national tragedy. Close enough, I guess. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Al Green (D-TX), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) had previously announced that they were boycotting the speech as part of the ongoing promotion of
They are children, irresponsible, petty and petulant, and toxic to the fabric of national unity.
9. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona broke ranks at several points in the speech, refusing to scowl and shake her head at Pelosi’s cue, wearing brilliant blue rather than white, and standing to applaud the President’s remarks praising “opportunity zones” and tax breaks for certain developments in poor areas. Naturally, she’s being savaged for this—that scale thingee, you know. Groused Elvia Díaz of the Arizona Republic:
Sinema may think she displayed bipartisanship. Instead, she appeared to be cheering a president who just minutes before had refused to shake Pelosi’s hand, a president she’ll have to convict or acquit over abuse of power and contempt of Congress. A president who constantly lies, attacks nonwhites and anyone who doesn’t agree with him.
Translation: “HATE!!! HATE!!!”
10. The President closed his speech in rousing fashion, defying political correcteness and historical revisionism to evoke the nation’s pioneer spirit and its settling of the West. His grand finale is not the one given to the media beforehand, nor does it hatch the version on the White House website. If you love the American saga and its unique traditions and values as I do, it had to raise your spirits, which is what a State of the Union speech should do.
“As the world bears witness tonight, America is a land of heroes. This is the place where greatness is born, where destinies are forged, and where legends come to life. This is the home of Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt, of many great Generals, including Washington, Pershing, Patton, and MacArthur. This is the home of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, and so many more. This is the country where children learn names like Wyatt Earp, Davy Crockett, and Annie Oakley. This is the place where the pilgrims landed at Plymouth and where Texas patriots made their last stand at the Alamo.
[Yes, even in this, the month when the siege of the converted Mission began, the Democrats could not bring themselves to cheer the Alamo.
“The American Nation was carved out of the vast frontier by the toughest, strongest, fiercest, and most determined men and women ever to walk the face of the Earth. Our ancestors braved the unknown; tamed the wilderness; settled the Wild West; lifted millions from poverty, disease, and hunger; vanquished tyranny and fascism; ushered the world to new heights of science and medicine; laid down the railroads, dug out canals, raised up the skyscrapers — and, ladies and gentlemen, our ancestors built the most exceptional Republic ever to exist in all of human history. And we are making it greater than ever before! This is our glorious and magnificent inheritance.
“We are Americans. We are the pioneers. We are the pathfinders. We settled the new world, we built the modern world, and we changed history forever by embracing the eternal truth that everyone is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.
“America is the place where anything can happen! America is the place where anyone can rise. And here, on this land, on this soil, on this continent, the most incredible dreams come true!
“This Nation is our canvas, and this country is our masterpiece. We look at tomorrow and see unlimited frontiers just waiting to be explored. Our brightest discoveries are not yet known. Our most thrilling stories are not yet told. Our grandest journeys are not yet made. The American Age, the American Epic, the American Adventure, has only just begun!
“Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God’s grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come!
“Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless America.”
Well done, Mr. President.
Yet immediately after that stirring finish and those names and words, Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up he copy of the President’s speech.
Res ipsa loquitur.
But although the act does speak for itself, let the last word be this tweet from Prof. Jonathan Turley, whose blog, after all, is called Res Ipsa Loquitur. The Constitutional Law scholar, who earlier in the evening pointed out that the President is the guest of Congress, and that all the head-shaking and face-making by Pelosi’s minions was rude and wrong, issued this:
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