Thursday, February 01, 2018

Trump’s Tour de Force

February 1, 2018

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President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Credit: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla)

Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address -- President Donald Trump’s first -- was, in the view of many clear-minded, experienced observers such as Newt Gingrich and Powerline’s John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson -- a tour de force. CBS noted a 98 percent approval rating among Republicans. By all but the most partisan critics, the President’s recounting of the successes of 2017 was impressive, even record-setting. There are numerous conservatives giving Trump very favorable comparisons to Reagan with some finding Trump’s accomplishments even more impressive than the iconic conservative leader. According to CNN, the 80-minute speech was interrupted by applause 117 times and received a 75 percent approval rating.  A major media critic, the WashingtonPost, ruthlessly trashed the speech but gave Trump backhanded praise by asking a snarky question about whether the “presidential transformation” would last.
By now, viewers are jaded by the typical SOTU guests. It’s a practice that heretofore has seemed extraneous and forced. Trump’s skillful weaving of his guests’ stories into American values and his policies was movingly impressive, gaining continuous applause throughout the speech. More importantly, the heroic stories of the guests humanized cold policy positions and revealed the president’s warm heart in a gripping way.
Rather than the typical laundry list of accomplishments, Trump’s speech wove stories and promises into the real-life experiences of Americans in 2017, including the natural disasters of hurricanes and fires, terrorist attacks, violent mass shootings, gang cruelty, and the everyday heroism of law enforcement, military, firefighters, and ordinary citizens who go far beyond duty to protect the vulnerable and perform miracles under duress.
After Trump’s stellar performance in his first SOTU address, it may be risky for his critics to disparage Trump’s presidency, especially among independent voters who are critical to Democrat’s prospect for 2018. I believe that the lasting images of the SOTU broadcast will be, first and foremost, the hero’s faces as Trump told their stories. Who can forget the face of Bronze Star-earning Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck, the parents of Otto Warmbier, Fred and Cindy, who are still grieving the tragic death of their son at the hand of cruel North Koreans, the image of Ji Seong-ho lifting his old-fashioned crutches in the air as “testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom,” or the grief-stricken faces of two couples who lost their teenage daughters to the violence of MS-13 gangs, or the radiance of the parents -- the Holets -- of an adopted baby girl of a homeless, drug-addicted mother who wanted her to have a better life. This law enforcement officer and his wife felt God calling them to take her into their family of four children. These faces were imprinted on our hearts by the skillful telling of their stories and how each responded to a critical need in the nation during 2017. Their stories highlighted the many ways one individual can make a difference and inspire others.
Other prevailing and contrasting images that will last in people’s minds are the numerous individual and collective pictures of contempt and hatred of the president shown by the Democrat minority. Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, showed amused condescension throughout the speech. Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, was rudely arrogant and dismissive. The Black Caucus couldn’t even smile or applaud the fact that Black unemployment is at its lowest rate ever! The Democrats were coached to not respond positively to anything Trump said throughout the evening.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., listen to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address.

The Democrat’s sour-faced contempt went far beyond their hatred for Trump. It was embarrassing to see the Democrats disrespecting God, the flag, patriotism, good ideas, and great accomplishments that benefit and enrich the lives of many Americans, and, indeed, they revealed haughty hatred toward the democratic process itself. Trump’s speech was full of bipartisan outreach to the Democrats. Most notably, he offered several important compromises on DACA, but the Democrats still scowled and continued to refuse to applaud. It became very apparent that any compromise on DACA will be a no-win position from every perspective -- rejected by the Democrats and loathed by conservatives. To add insult, the media cried foul over pre-speech leaks that the speech would be bipartisan; they were blind to any Trump compromise or outreach to the other side of the aisle.
A screen shot of Democrats glued to their phones during the speech showed their scorn for decorum and provided a shameful example of their intentionally inappropriate behavior at an event of national significance and disparaged a tradition that should be a bipartisan celebration of America and the annual accomplishments empowering the American Dream.
The Washington Post, again, in disparaging the speech, wondered which would prevail: “the Teleprompter Trump or the Twitter Trump.” They make a valid, but minor, point. While I think 80 percent of Trump’s tweets are clever and strategic politics of the kind that won him the election, a small percentage of them provide fodder for his critics, especially those in the media, to focus on seeming pettiness and political blunders. I cannot imagine living with the kind of incessant and pervasive attacks the Democrats are using against the president, his wife, and his family. He is labeled as thin-skinned for his penchant of hitting back whenever he is criticized but to withstand such an avalanche of nonstop assaults requires the toughness of a rhinoceros’ hide.
I hope that he will be able to rise above such attacks in 2018 and use Twitter effectively as he has shown a talent for doing on occasion. As Trump has pointed out, those hypocritical attackers hugged him, asked for money, and sucked up to him when he was a NY billionaire rather than the president. Now, identity and so-called “resistance” politics prevents them from respectful conduct at a traditional ceremony celebrating our nation’s annual achievements. Notably, Trump used the word “we” and referred to his administration far more often than he used the word “I.” That single distinction is a key to bipartisanship and cooperation among the various agencies and branches of government. It also, I hope, signals a maturity in the job that will help the president avoid the kind of rhetorical missteps that have sometimes overshadowed his major accomplishments during his first year in the presidency.
As he begins his second year in the highest office of our land, Trump shows promise of becoming a great president and fulfilling the hopes of all of us who voted for him because Hillary Clinton was definitely not an option and he seemed strong and independent enough to “clean the swamp,” keep his promises, restore the American Dream, and respect America’s traditional Judeo-Christian values enough to “Make America Great Again.” The list of his accomplishments in his first year in office -- most fulfilling campaign promises -- is (to use current lingo) awesome! Wonder of wonders, who would have thought it possible that a politician might actually do what he said he would do during an election campaign -- in spite of having unprecedented obstruction from the “Resistance” critics and the “Never-Trumpers” in his own party. Surprisingly and illogically, nothing in the constant revelations of Hillary Clinton’s hypocrisy, blunders, untrustworthiness and even possible serious crimes over the years seems cause for “Resisters” and “Never-Trumpers” to reevaluate their preferred choice of Hillary over Trump in the 2016 elections.
My undergrad and graduate degrees are in rhetoric, public address, debate and communication. I served as a Presidential Speechwriter for Bush 41. I have analyzed and written numerous presidential addresses -- both historical and contemporary. Trump’s First State of the Union is one of the best I’ve ever seen, both in content and delivery. In contrast, the Democrats’ behavior in the audience may be the most reprehensible I’ve ever seen. 

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