Before tonight’s State of the Union, the White House told reporters to expect a low-key presentation by the president. That was what we got, in style–relatively subdued. The content, on the other hand, was dynamite. More than anything, the speech was a reminder of what an excellent record the president has to run on in November. In both domestic and foreign policy, his achievements are essentially unarguable.
This puts the Democrats in a tough spot. 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.
This comes across very poorly, I think. Would it really cost the Democrats anything to look as though they are happy about a good economy. I don’t think so, but their hatred of the president is so all-consuming that their judgment is warped.
Then, of course, there are the more controversial issues–controversial with the Democrats, anyway, if not with the voters. Like illegal immigration and sanctuary cities. In the battle between law-abiding Americans and criminal aliens, the Democrats made it very clear whose side they are on.
It seems that with each passing year, the SOTU becomes more theatrical. Citizens of various sorts are introduced from the balcony, families are reunited, orphans, war heroes and centenarians are saluted, and so on. Tonight’s show continued that trend, and many of the audience introductions were beautifully handled. The State of the Union is inherently the president’s show, and there isn’t much the opposition party can do about it.
But it was great to see Trump honor Rush Limbaugh, not only with an introduction but with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, conferred on the spot by the First Lady. Some would say that Trump took a bit of a risk by recognizing Limbaugh, who is much hated on the Left. But, while he is not in all respects a traditional conservative, Trump knows how to appeal to his party’s conservative base. We saw that several times tonight. Trump knows that Rush is revered (rightly) by conservatives. With gestures like this one, Trump assures conservatives that he is, at heart, one of us.
So it was a terrific night. I only wish more uncommitted voters were watching. Not only would they have been impressed by the litany of the administration’s accomplishments, pretty much any normal person would have been put off by the Democrats’ antics. Their refusal to cheer obvious good news, the bizarre wearing of some kind of white uniform, the weird moment when a group of Democrats jumped up and started chanting something inaudible while pointing at the president, and–above all–the non-stop pantomime enacted by an obviously pained Nancy Pelosi, could only mean more votes for Republicans. The climax came when Pelosi, most likely at her wit’s end after listening to an hour and a half of cheers for Donald Trump, appeared to tear up her copy of the president’s speech, which she had been pretending to study assiduously throughout the evening.
It was as good a symbol as any of the frustration that Democrats are feeling as their impeachment drive fizzles out and the presidential race gets underway in earnest, with nary a plausible Democratic candidate in sight.