Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: The State Of The Union


Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum-the State of The Union edition.  Did anyone actually watch the whole thing yesterday evening?  Blogger watched the live stream mainly to see which Mr. Donald Trump would show up, the good version that stays on message and reads exactly what is on the TelePrompter or the off the rails version.  The good version showed yesterday evening with a softer version of the same divisive message.  It left Blogger in need of an emotional therapy pet.  Kind of seriously.  The one redeeming moment was the Democratic response given by party up-and-comer and Kennedy scion Joseph P. Kennedy III.  Joe Kennedy is Representative Joe Kennedy of the Massachusetts fourth congressional district.  It was a short speech but it provided an optimistic counterpoint to an otherwise downer of a speech.  The quotable moment came when Rep. Kennedy indirectly referred to the Trump administration as,

...a rebuke of our highest American ideal: the belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count (CNN.com; date accessed Jan. 31, 2018).

Mr. Trump's very lengthy speech was mostly a review of his accomplishments in his first of office and outlined a number of proposals he would like (dare we say insists) Congress to consider in the coming year.  Before any of you get the idea that what this president says carries any weight, allow Yours Truly to remind you that this president has a history of saying one thing one day and saying the opposite the next day.  Keeping that in mind, The Forum would like to take a look at The President's maiden State of The Union speech and pick out some key points.

Let us start with Mr. Trump's two favorite words, "America First."  This was the overarching theme he successfully ran on-as president, he would always put the United States first.  At the Davos Economic Forum, he sounded a more conciliatory note when he said America first is not America alone.  Yet, for the first hour annual address to Congress it was all domestic policy: tax cuts, the economy, regulatory change, immigration.  Not one word about how he envisions America's place in the world until sometime into the second hour of the speech.  However, the message was crystal clear: "America First" is not just talk, The President is serious about making it a matter of real policy.

Early during the nearly ninety minute speech, The President made several pleas for that elusive idea, bipartisanship, asking Congress to set aside their differences and work together to "Make America Great Again." 

At one point, The President said,

...Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.

If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything (Ibid)

Seriously?  This was the best White House advisor Stephen Miller and his merry band of speech writers could come up with?  That last sentence about believing in yourself, you can dream, you be anything, and together we can achieve anything sounds like it came out of a really bad young adult novel.

This pablum would explain House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's sour expression (and Blogger's need to wretch).  Note to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: never ever tell another woman to smile more.

State of The Union speeches are usually a mix of accomplishments and outlining vision for the future of government.  Mr.  Trump's maiden speech was "...80% celebration of what he has done and 20% talking about what he would like to do (In truth, the percentage might have tilted even more in the direction of Trump's recitation of his greatest hits) (Ibid).  It took nearly hour before The President mentioned a proposal-"a massive infrastructure bill--that he wanted Congress to take up." (Ibid) He kept going by insisting that Congress consider his proposed immigration compromise.

In case you decided to do something like, alphabetized your spice rack, instead of watch the SOTU speech, allow Yours Truly to review exactly what were Mr. Trump's greatest hits over the past year.  They were (dramatic pause) erasing everything that President Barack Obama did during his tenure in the White House.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump campaigned as the "anti-Barack Obama."  This appealed to Republicans in the Plain States, who "saw everything they disliked about big government liberals..." (Ibid) and love it.  Once in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump continued to govern as the anti-Obama," more accurately as the "Obama eraser." (Ibid)

Shall we review how The President erased President Obama's legacy?  He ended the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.  Quick note to DACA-eligible readers: you can still apply for relief at uscis.gov.  Stop reading and do it now.  Back to the post.  The President argued for the repeal of the individual healthcare insurance mandate.  He signed executive order after executive order (not actual legislation) repealing Obama-era regulation.  Further, he announced that he planned to Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba open-a direct rebuke to President Obama's unsuccessful promise to close the prison.

Allow Blogger to remind you that prior to declaring his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Trump really did not have any clearly articulated policy initiatives. In fact, his whole platform was do the opposite of whatever President Obama did and he kept going through yesterday evening.

What about Special Consul Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election and possibly colluding with Trump campaign?  Not a single word or oblique reference to the subject.

The one and only time Russia was mentioned was during this applause line,

...Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values.  (Ibid)

Strange that he would refer to Russia as a rogue regime after deciding, contrary to a near unanimous vote in Congress, not to impose new sanctions.

Perhaps it is not a big surprise that Mr. Trump would not even mention Special Consul Mueller's investigation during an 80 minute speech designed to promote unity and bipartisanship.  Instead, he spoke about everything else.  The investigation is tearing apart the political heart and soul of Washington so it is little wonder that he opted to leave it out of his speech.

Finally, It is all about the show.  This president loves living in the spotlight.  The big moment was the notoriously private First Lady Melania Trump publicly surfaced yesterday evening after keeping out of sight for nearly a week, including canceling her plans to accompany her husband to the Davos Economic Forum.  The First Lady was reportedly furious over being blindsided with the stories of her husband's alleged affair with porn actor Stormy Daniels.  The First Lady looked radiant in a white pantsuit.  A shout out to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

The State of The Union show was top notch.  No does stagecraft like this president, believe me.  Sorry, had to channel The President for a moment.  In the gallery were the families who lost loved one to the MS-13 gang (The President really did love saying MS-13) to the parent's of Otto Warmbier, a North Korean defector who waved his crutches.  Their stories were haunting and a reminder that it is not always all about the victories and joyous moments.  

Where do we go from here?  That remains to be seen in the coming weeks.  Another government shutdown is looming large if Congress cannot work out some sort of immigration compromise.  The Russia investigation is hanging like a large black cloud over Washington.  Given the stepped up efforts by The President and his supporters to discredit Mr. Mueller and his team, it appear that the Special Consul is about drop a very major bombshell.  In the meantime, take heart in Rep. Joe Kennedy's words,

Bullies may land a punch.  They may leave a mark,.... But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people United in defense of their future. (Ibid)