February 7, 2019

State of the Union

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address to Congress. YouTube

A CBS News poll of viewers indicated that 97 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents, and 30 percent of Democrats approved of the speech. CBS News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is suspicious of Trump’s appeals for bipartisanship.

“The State of the Union address presented two versions of Donald Trump. I have often wished that the nation could be governed by the teleprompter Trump instead of the impulsive Trump. The former showed up last night, appearing at times restrained, aspirational, and tempered… The other President Trump appeared as well. He was uncompromising and took a hard line, painting a dark picture of an America about to be invaded by MS-13 gangs and turned into a socialist state.”
The Hill

It was a “speech that exalted bipartisanship without displaying a strategy, or even an appetite, for achieving it…The president is right that members of both parties share some of the same goals. But they have real and deep disagreements about the best ways to achieve them, and even about what success looks like. The problem is not a lack of courage, and if Trump realizes that and has a plan to overcome it, he offered no hint in his speech.” The Atlantic

“Like last year, Trump’s speech was far more focused on the folks in the gallery – some heroes, some victims – than on policies. If you blinked, you missed infrastructure, which once again seems to be an idea he talks about, not something he plans to enact. He engaged in some soaring rhetoric about child cancer, putting the spotlight on a wonderful little girl in the gallery to illustrate the point… and then asked Congress for all of $500 million over the next 10 years to find a cure for the disease. And then there were the recycled ideas, including school choice and parental leave, that he mentioned last year, filed away for safekeeping, and pulled out again this time.”

“President Trump began and ended his long State of the Union address Tuesday night with tributes to heroes of America’s past—those who stormed Normandy and liberated Dachau, who ‘saved freedom and transformed science,’ who built the railroads and passed the Civil Rights Act. ‘Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead,’ he exclaimed, before asking, ‘What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?’ Yet the only big thing that Trump asked this Congress to do was to build a wall.”

Some confess, “I’ll be honest: There were parts of President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union that I liked. But then I remembered the reality of his presidency…

"Trump’s presidency has burned time, trust, and political energy that could have gone toward addressing America’s real problems. These are years that could have been spent fighting climate change, expanding health care coverage, investing in R&D, designing a saner and safer immigration system, making the tax code reward work rather than wealth. These are years that could have been spent making the presidency Trump imagined [on Tuesday night] a reality.”

“President Trump's closing encomium to the past glory of America could not hide the emptiness of his vision for our politics today. ‘We do the incredible. We defy the impossible,’ the president said with a flourish toward the end. But he didn't point to any incredible or impossibility-defying proposals for today's America.”
The Week

Some suggest that Congress “remove Trump from office, so that he cannot abuse incumbency to subvert the electoral process, but let the American people make the judgment on whether or not he gets a second term… Removing Trump from office for the remainder of his term would disable him from abusing presidential power again and protect the integrity of the electoral process from inappropriate interference. At the same time, letting him run for a second term would permit the American electorate to decide whether Trump, despite his attempt to subvert the system, should have another chance… Decoupling removal from disqualification lowers the stakes and changes the constitutional calculus. As long as Trump can run again, Republicans cannot hide behind a claim that they are [the] ones protecting voter choice by opposing impeachment.”
Edward B. Foley, Politico

From the Right

The right praised both the substance and content of the speech.

From the Right

The right praised both the substance and content of the speech.

Last night’s State of the Union address was terrific. A home run… When Trump sticks to the teleprompter, lays out his agenda, stops talking about himself and starts talking about what his policies would do for the American people, you get a glimpse of the president he could be with a little more discipline and focus and a little less self-absorption and sensitivity to criticism.”
National Review

Trump “laid out a unifying governing agenda — from empowering women at home and abroad to confronting China’s predatory trade practices, making new investments in crumbling infrastructure, lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, and defeating AIDS and childhood cancer. ‘We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution,’ the president declared, ‘and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.’ This is exactly what a majority of Americans want… The Trump we saw Tuesday night is the president we should be seeing every day, not just once a year.”
Washington Post

“This was a State of the Union that almost didn’t happen — or that almost happened at a rally, or in the Oval Office, or a gas station on the southern border. In the end, it was good that he waited for the invitation and the chance to come to Nancy Pelosi’s House with an offer of peace. Will she take the offer? Maybe, maybe not, but there is a lot of room in between. If this is the Donald Trump we see for the next two years, two important things might happen. First, he might get some things done. Second, he just might get re-elected.”
The Federalist

Many note that “Mr. Trump is posing traditional, widely held American values against the Democrats’ confusing, postmodern amalgam of identity politics and national guilt-tripping. That includes his explicit challenge to Democrats on condoning abortion at full term. Democrats are always rubbing your face in some national moral deficiency or failure… Candidate Trump plans to give voters a remake of Ronald Reagan’s morning in America, while the Democrats are offering a nightmare on Elm Street.”
Wall Street Journal

How can one argue with all Americans benefiting from 157 million of us working right now, the most ever in our history? Or the fact that we have the lowest unemployment in 50 years? Or the fact that 58 percent of the new job openings last year were filled by women?... And isn’t it just common sense to have trade deals that benefit the American people? Why should we continue operating under trade deals that have bordered on theft of American wealth and jobs? Or foreign policies that benefit them and not this idea of perpetual, endless wars?”
The Hill

Regarding the media’s response, many posit that “'fact-checking' too often is just a mask for political attacks.” Two “fact checks” singled out for criticism were a Politico piece, which rated Trump’s claim that one in three migrant women are sexually assaulted as “partly true” because the actual number is 31 percent, and a NPR piece critiquing his statement that there are now a record number of women in Congress (which is true) on the basis that many of those women are Democrats.
Fox News

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“Why did Modi pick this moment to do something so radical? Violence in Kashmir had been trending downwards for the last year, after all. The main reason, besides President Donald Trump's alarming offer to mediate a settlement, is that he wanted a distraction from India's mounting economic woes. India's GDP growth dropped from over 8 percent to 5.8 percent over the last year, and it is widely expected to dip further. Just as ominous has been the crash in consumer demand. India's usual problem has been an insufficient supply to meet its voracious appetite for vehicles, cell phones, and other similar goods. But sales figures for all consumer goods have posted a precipitous decline, slamming businesses that are dramatically scaling back investments.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

On the bright side...

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