Article II, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires the President to “…from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…”
Do you see the words “pep rally” in the statement above? I do not see them either, but rah-rah fest is precisely what the State of the Union Address has become. I must plead mea culpa in helping to destroy what was once a serious discussion with the Nation.
In the 1980s I helped locate exceptional Americans and submitted their names to Mike Deaver who would choose a person to sit next to Nancy Reagan at the State of the Union, and receive praise from the President from the podium. It was a folksy moment that Reagan liked and that he did well.
At the time, the Democrats hated the gesture. They called it showmanship and unbecoming of a Constitutionally mandated discussion of a national agenda. In 1992 when Bill Clinton became The President and carried on the practice, miraculously all Democratic objections ceased.
The event is now permanent. The Democrats are right. It is showmanship. Last night it was vulgar showmanship.
During the introductions of the platoon of special guests, I mused if next year’s SOTU will be convened at RFK Stadium just east of the Capitol building? With a seating capacity of 45,596, the forum might be a bit more adequate for a Trump Extravaganza.
The State of the Union is supposed to be a serious discussion between the President and the Congress about our national direction, and the agenda for the upcoming year. None of that went on last night. It was an exercise in self-adulation.
It is sad enough that Trump borrows Stalin’s words to attack the free press. Trump taking the podium and applauding the adoring throng a la Mao Tse-tung caused me to emit an incredulous gasp.
The speech started off well. The President opened with the obligatory remarks about the greatness of the American people. Ronald Reagan was a master of making Americans feel good about ourselves. Donald Trump? Not so much.
Part two of a successful SOTU is a call for bipartisanship. Every good speech has at least one comedy line in it, and that was Trump’s. Immediately, the President launched into outlining a one-sided, doctrinaire, and extremist political agenda. It was an alternate reality moment.
He wants the best for all Americans. Well, except for the elderly, the poor, minority, and Democratic Americans. Things relevant to the majority of the nation are not necessary, and unworthy of consideration in Trump-land.
It would not be a Trump moment without taking a shot at Mexicans. There was a long-winded story about MS-13, a not-so-subtle reminder of his statements that Mexicans are all gangsters and criminals. To soften critics, the President then paraded another special guest with a traditional Hispanic surname in an attempt to blunt his critics that he is a bigot.
However, he is a bigot. Finding someone with the right last name, or skin color, or inspiring story does not change his history.
For those who wonder why there is a rooster as the photo for this story, here is the reason. Each morning, the Rooster crows as the sun rises. The Rooster then struts around the henyard confident that he, and he alone, caused the sun to rise. It is the perfect metaphor describing Donald Trump speaking about the economy.
Economists consider that when Presidents take credit for jobs, or the blame for unemployment, and the economy the practice is dubious. They are polite. What they should say is that it is dishonest to praise, or blame the President for the state of the economy.
We live in a free-market system. America is not a state-controlled economy like in the old Soviet Union or today’s China. So many factors go into jobs and the state of the economy that has nothing to do with the government.
Economics illiteracy is rampant in the USA. Micro and Macro Economics are mostly taught on the college level and required for few students. Unless one is in Business School, majoring in Economics, and some Journalism schools mandate students take courses in Economics. Lack of knowledge about our economy has made for a fertile environment for politicians to mislead the public. Both parties engage in the deception eagerly.
Mr. Trump wants 1.5 trillion dollars for infrastructure improvement. That corresponds to the tax breaks he gave his rich pals. From where will the money come? The President suggests a partnership with the states. That is a fun Republican/Federalist idea. However, the Red States are dependent on Washington for money to operate essential services. Where is the money coming from again?
Fact-checking organizations, like the award-winning Politifact, were overwhelmed during the speech. So many requests came into Politifact that their servers crashed.
The President did make one comment last night that caused me to appreciate the miracle powers of the drug Xanax. The President said we all have one heart.
No, Mr. President, we do not have one heart. Some of us do not have hearts that can destroy families the way your immigration policy does. Many of us loathe the idea of taking away Healthcare for the poor. Only those with a heart of darkness can call white supremacists “many fine people.”
No, we do not have the same heart.
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