February 6, 2020

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, Trump delivered the State of the Union address to Congress. White House

Trump refused “to shake [Pelosi’s] hand as he handed her a paper copy of his State of the Union speech… At the end of his 80-minute speech to a joint session of Congress, Pelosi stood and ripped apart her copy of the remarks he had handed her as millions watched on television.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left criticizes the speech, arguing that it was divisive and included false claims.

“Trump was the host of a reality show, ‘The Apprentice,’ before becoming president. That experience showed Tuesday… Credit Trump with this: He was crafty in his systemic dismantling of the dignity of the address. No matter how much you might hate what Limbaugh spews on the radio every day, only a creep would want him to suffer personally. No one in their right mind would begrudge a military couple from reuniting. But compassion should be a virtue, not a prop… Tuesday night, Trump turned what is typically a solemn occasion into a reality show.”
Bill Goodykoontz, USA Today

Trump began the health section of his speech with a lie, saying ‘we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.’ The reality is, he came close to replacing the Affordable Care Act in 2017 with policies that would have gutted consumer safeguards for sick people and cut coverage for millions. The president continues to support a lawsuit that could eliminate the ACA, this time without even bothering to say how he'd replace it. Trump also touted affordable alternative insurance he's made available. These new plans are cheaper precisely because they don't protect people with pre-existing conditions.”
Max Nisen, Bloomberg

“The president properly celebrated the destruction of the Islamic State’s caliphate and the military’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, Trump ignored the recent report by the Defense Intelligence Agency concluding that Baghdadi’s death had no impact on ISIS operations, which have increased as the result of Trump’s pullout from northern Syria… None of his rival politicians believes in putting America second. Where they differ is with Trump’s concept of ‘America first,’ which has left America alone.”
Fred Kaplan, Slate

“Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders gave speeches on Tuesday night responding to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address…

“While Whitmer focused on practical solutions, Sanders and Trump both spoke in sweeping, ideological language. While Whitmer longed for bipartisan unity and viewed it as a possibility, Sanders and Trump both have antagonistic, us-versus-them worldviews. While Whitmer seemed sanguine about fixing America, both Sanders and Trump see the world today as harsh and unfair and in need of transformative change. Should Sanders fail to take off in the primaries, perhaps this will all fade. But if his surge continues, this could be a sign of what’s to come: a clash of populisms, from the left and from the right.”
Zeeshan Aleem, Vox

Some contend that “[Whitmer’s speech] lacked anything that could be described as passion… It was mainly about bridges and potholes and all the good-government things Democratic governors are doing… [Meanwhile] Trump promised a space force, a Mars mission, and a cure for AIDS. People like big promises. Nobody shows up to a game show for the opportunity to win a shovel…

“The State of the Union didn’t just take place against the backdrop of impeachment; it was also juxtaposed against the stunning Democratic Party debacle in Iowa. Trump is putting on a summer blockbuster replete with CGI aliens and completely implausible plot twists. Democrats can’t put on a high school play without the lead actors getting knocked off stage by an unwieldy boom mic… Democrats need to get in the game, now.”
Elie Mystal, The Nation

Regarding Pelosi, “[her] talents have always lain in the less glamorous, less public side of politics: she is good at whipping up votes in her caucus and she is good at disciplining dissenters. She is good at offering incentives and punishments to get Democratic members of Congress to do what she wants them to do… To rip up the speech on television was a bit of theatricality, sure – a ploy designed to get attention. It also worked. The day after Trump made a long speech full of misinformation that tried to make a case for his re-election, no one is talking about him. Instead we are talking about the speaker of the House. That, too, is a skill, one that Pelosi seems to be honing.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right praises Trump’s presentation and the content of the speech, and criticizes Pelosi.

From the Right

The right praises Trump’s presentation and the content of the speech, and criticizes Pelosi.

“Ronald Reagan had a genius for anecdotal audience participation in the State of the Union. He frequently called out to the gallery for heroes to stand and take a bow. Mr. Trump has brought the form to almost gaudy perfection. Up in the gallery, he reunited an Army wife and children with their husband and father, who was magically plucked out of the war zone and returned to his family by the wand of Trump…

“That half of the audience sat on their hands and stared daggers (impeached liar!) merely added to the entertainment. Mrs. Pelosi’s ripping up the speech brought the evening to an exquisitely sardonic conclusion, to be followed, next day, by the sequel of acquittal in the Senate. And so the presidential year 2020 begins.”
Lance Morrow, Wall Street Journal

“If you’re one of those millions of Americans who isn’t attached to either party… Trump’s speech probably included a lot that you liked. This was a masterfully produced presentation, with a lot of tributes to ordinary Americans who proved, as that Budweiser commercial argued, that you can find quite a bit of the extraordinary in ‘ordinary Americans.’”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Through the first half of the speech, President Trump reeled off one item of good news after another: Record low unemployment! Lowest black unemployment ever! Lowest Hispanic unemployment ever! Rising wages, especially at the bottom! Median net worth skyrocketing! And so on. The Democrats greeted all of this with stony silence. When Trump announced that in the last three years, 10 million people have gotten off welfare, the Democrats looked as though they were ready to cry.”
John Hinderaker, Power Line Blog

“This was the very best of Trump — generous, bipartisan (with a few barbs) and good-spirited. He not only got congressional Democrats to stand and cheer, but he credited the legislators in the room for working together across party lines to do right by America…

“Notably, Trump aimed foursquare at African Americans: From his new commitment to education choice for those ill-served by the public schools to his honoring of former Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee — not to mention the record low black unemployment rate — the president made it plain that he’s committed to progress for all Americans, even those whose votes he (mostly) won’t win come November.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

“Tuesday night’s gibes at Democratic support for socialized medicine and late-term abortion were negative but not personal or nasty. That approach is simply part of what good politicians do…

“[Trump] needs to build on Tuesday night’s success. More heartwarming moments like the one where he brought home a soldier who had been separated from his family because of repeated deployments to Afghanistan. Less telling the Squad to ‘go back’ to countries they hadn’t emigrated from… Tuesday’s address and Wednesday’s Senate acquittal give Trump the perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf. He can look at the past and show America how he will try to move on from it, or he can look for revenge and retaliation. His reelection chances may depend on his ability to consistently choose the first course and reject the second.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

“The relationship between the White House and the House Majority is, at this point, a knife fight. Perhaps ‘street brawl’ would be a more apt description. But does it have to be? Even in the midst of the most bitter divorce, after both the husband and wife have cheated on each other and busted up the furniture, they generally find a way to be at least a bit civil in front of the children…

“Refusing to shake the extended hand of the Speaker is simply childish and vindictive, no matter how much she may have wronged you. Ripping up the official copy of the State of the Union address is equally childish and a violation of protocol and official record-keeping. Two of the most prominent leaders in the government of the United States were acting out a poorly written scene from an episode of the Ren & Stimpy Show.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

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

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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