Filled with vagaries, innuendo and outright lies, President Trump's State of the Union address tonight failed to live up to the much hyped promise of unity. Instead, it resembled one of his rallies, with constant applause from Republicans, so desperate for substance that they grasped at even a hint of a possible policy change.
The speech denigrated into another campaign demand for his useless wall as he claimed credit where none was due, created facts out of thin air and misread why Democratic women were applauding.
One of his more outlandish claims was taking credit for more women in Congress; completely neglecting the fact that they are largely Democrats who ran in opposition to his administration and defeated Republicans endorsed by Trump. The women stood, applauding their own efforts, not Trump's. That applause was badly misread as an affirmation of this administration’s policies, which has far fewer women in top level positions than those the past.
On the economy, he claimed credit for starting the recovery that began under President Obama. The claims of having the largest economic numbers were equally vague. While he claimed to have done more than ANY of his predecessors, he ignored how President Obama rescued the country from the Great Recession, which he inherited from Republican President George Bush and launched an era of steadily declining unemployment.
Even while touting these tremendous economic numbers, he contradicted himself by claiming jobs and the economy were suffering because of illegal immigrants. And then there was border security; the endless drumbeat for building a wall. Unsubstantiated claims of more caravans, more drugs and more criminals coming over the border kept with the same rhetoric that resulted in the useless and incredibly damaging government shutdown, drawing groans from Democrats.
Using an unfortunate family as props, Trump highlighted the murder of a couple while ignoring the numerous mass shootings during his tenure. His claim to battle childhood cancer was also a red herring. He used a child as a prop while proposing a mere $500 million over ten years while asking for billions for his useless wall.
Spouting right wing rhetoric, he spread the outlandish lie of late term abortions being permitted, even after birth. This is a dangerous stance that has caused violent attacks on those performing lawful abortions.
His proposal to reignite the nuclear arms race is extremely dangerous. It moves the Doomsday Clock closer to oblivion and his promise to build more and more weapons threatens to explode our already burgeoning national debt.
He held the contradictory views of negotiating with North Korea, but pulling out of the same situation with Iran. Claims of creeping Socialism again led to campaign-like chants of “USA!” There was no offer or explanation, nor was there an option for a different approach.
Another “accomplishment” he lauded, as he proposed withdrawing from Afghanistan, was the killing of the leader of the group they attacked the USS Cole, while ignoring the fact that President Obama hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden.
It was a rambling, unconnected speech that had little to do with unity and much to do with smoke-and-mirrors efforts to deflect viewers from the real issues. Instead of calling for unity, he called for an end to “partisan investigations”.
His flashbacks to D-Day had nothing to do with the current state of our union. His lame attempts at making a connection were weak and showed a disconnect with everyday Americans. He attempted to paint an image of a glorious America, while his actions showed anger and disdain for anyone who disagrees with him.
Trump's ‘America First” claim along with his claim of “greatness”, at his terms, was without focus and without meaning. No new plans were presented. No great ideas were proposed. No solutions were offered. In essence, President Trump's State of the Union address was a 5,000 word nothing-burger.
CJ Waldron is a retired English teacher from upstate New York. An adjunct instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, he lives in Conway, SC with his wife, Donna.