From the very beginning of his speech on the State of the Union, Trump showed his disrespect for tradition and procedure. The president ignored Speaker Nancy Pelosi and he jumped into his speech before Pelosi got to introduce him, as is customary.
And it got worse as he highlighted partisan divisions. “All that is standing between us and prosperity are those partisan investigations.” The following line overshadowed all the other remarks of the speech because it sounded like a declaration of war against the new Congress under the control of Democrats–“If there is going to be peace and legislation there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way,” said Trump. Those words dominated the conversation of journalists and commentators after the speech.
“Donald Trump raised to a new level the demagoguery,” said John Brennan, former CIA Director. MSNBC commentator Nicolle Wallace said Trump “has no convictions, and he doesn’t believe anything he says.” He will contradict his statements the next day and all he seeks is revenge, against anyone who disagrees with him. Trump showed again that he is full of pettiness and venality. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that “the president was unprepared, that he had no substance and had no plan to address the opioid crisis, to address the cost of healthcare, no plan to increase wages”.
There was no no mention of the shutdown that hurt so many federal workers and their families. And about the wall, all he said was: “I will build the wall,” and that it will consist of a see-through steel barrier. No mention of how he will pay for it.
Trump honored veterans of WWII, women who got elected to Congress, Holocaust survivors and other Americans. He received standing ovations in spite of his unwillingness to work with legislators to bring down the cost of drugs, to improve immigration laws, to rebuild the infrastructure, and to meet some of the other challenges of the day.
Trump attacked socialism, choosing to name Venezuela as one country that has suffered the effects of Socialism. “America will never be a Socialist country. Americans need to be concerned at this point as to the direction of this president’s policies with respect to the world. Our relationship with North Korea is more dangerous because of him, and Venezuela presents a unique challenge for a president who has shown little knowledge of foreign policy and an unwillingness to listen to advise from his intelligence people.
Stacy Abrams was the Democrat responsible for responding to the State of the Union speech. She was eloquent and optimistic about the future of America. “Even as I am disappointed by the president’s approach to our problems. I still don’t want him to fail, but we need him to tell the truth.” In a direct response to Trump’s attacks on immigrants she asserted: “The shutdown was a stunt engineered by president Trump. America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls.” Trump’s speech was full of lies and exaggerations and was not unifying. He was his usual combative self, and left the country as divided as ever.