Tonight’s State of the Union speech was a triumph for President Trump. The speech was excellent, and Trump knew it cold and delivered it effectively.
The president began with a recitation of his administration’s achievements that was truly impressive. Trump emphasized, appropriately, the remarkable gains our economy has made in just one year.
The president’s reception by most in the House chamber was rapturous, which must have been an eye-opener for some who watched. For the Democrats, the optics were very bad. They ostentatiously refused to stand or even applaud, even in response to the least controversial passages in Trump’s speech. One of the most striking visuals was of the Democrats’ Black Caucus refusing to stand for, or even applaud, the lowest African-American unemployment rate in history.
If I were an African-American viewing the proceedings, I would wonder: whose side are they on?
Equally dismal was when almost all the Democrats refused to stand in response to Trump’s statement that we should all rise for the National Anthem. Here, and repeatedly through the evening, the Democrats were playing to a very small audience. Their audience probably got even smaller when they were seen fiddling with their cell phones.
Immigration was naturally a significant topic. Trump began, shrewdly, by emphasizing security and the vicious MS-13 gang, which largely hushed the illegal immigrants who had been invited into the chamber by Democrats. Perhaps the speech’s most controversial moment was when Trump said that his compromise immigration proposal includes eventual citizenship–not just legalization–for nearly two million illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors.
Troubling as that may be for many conservatives, the sight of Cory Booker and other Democrats sitting stone-faced when the president said we need a merit-based immigration system was a forceful reminder of how bad the alternative to the Trump administration is.
On foreign policy, President Trump was appropriately strong. Throughout the speech, he talked about guests who were heroic in various ways. This has become a tradition, but I don’t think I have seen it done more effectively than Trump did it tonight. The final guest was a North Korean escapee who waved his crutches to the cheering crowd. I think even the Democrats may have been on their feet for that one.
All in all, it was a terrific night for the good guys. Trump’s performance tonight was a reminder that his predecessor was not a very good public speaker. He never succeeded in stirring an audience as Trump did tonight. The Democrats can only hope that not a lot of swing voters were watching.