Blue Spin

Trump Talked and Everyone Responded (but not really)

William Kronsberg, Staff Writer


The Stage

The state of the union was a few weeks ago, taking place just one day prior to the ending of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Though acquittal was a virtual guarantee that night, and came true the following day, the speech shied away from discussing the Ukraine scandal at all. Instead, Trump went for a much more direct appeal straight to his audience.

To set the scene, there are a few physical details to include. First of all, seated behind Trump were Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Prior to the address, both leaders were provided with a copy of Trump’s speech, which Pelosi read early on during the President’s address before literally tearing the pages apart. Further down, most of the president’s allies from the two chambers of Congress as well as his cabinet were seated to Trump’s left (where most of the cameras sat as well). On the other side of the chamber were many of the other Democratic leaders whose jeers and boos could be heard but barely seen via TV feed. The effect was a constant crowded visual of the tiring GOP attendees popping up and down with applause on each of the president’s pauses while the channels threw in the occasional flip to a more than dissatisfied Democrat, like Jim Clyburn or Steny Hoyer.

The Speech

As the speech wore on and the president sought his big applause moments, he went for the gusto on his talking points. For instance, Trump claimed that “thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far.” He is not wrong, or at least in the bigger picture. The United States is the world’s number one energy producer, but it has been since the middle of Barack Obama’s term. He also made the point that the unemployment rate for disabled Americans hit an all-time low, another statement that brought cheers. However, this rate has gone up in the past few months, and the figures from late last year top the only twelve years of data we have on this group. Among Trump’s more straightforward brags, he pointed out under his administration “7 million Americans have come off food stamps.” He is correct that well over six million fewer people were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in October of 2019 as compared to January of 2017. But I ask you, the humble Talon reader, is this something to brag about? Sure, a cut in the SNAP population was meant to show his economic progress. But we can’t assume that all of these people (or even a majority) have advanced financially enough that they don’t have to depend on nutritional assistance. The sad truth is many of these Americans were actually kicked out of the program as politicians and bureaucrats alike are looking to trim federal spending in any way possible. These aren’t positive statistics for the president to tout or even numbers at all. These are casualties on America’s ledger.

The Shoutouts

Nearly anyone would love to be given credit on national television, especially from the President of the United States. Yet there comes a limit, a time when the president has to stop throwing the spotlight on everyone else in the room. I’m not saying President Trump surpassed that limit, I’m just saying he did it a lot. Many of these calls to the crowd were preceded, succeeded, or both by applause breaks. For reference, Trump stopped one hundred and thirty-two times for various lengths to absorb applause from the crowd. Among those in the crowd that Trump recognized were the democratic Acting President of Venezuela Juan Guaido, former member of the Tuskegee Airmen Charles McGee and his grandson Iain, 4th Grader Janiyah Davis, and, of course, radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Trump gave Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among the highest honors that can be given to a civilian in the US. The award came on the heels of his recent diagnosis of advanced lung cancer, but that is really no excuse. Limbaugh is far from the model citizen we would expect to get such a high honor. He has long decried the idea of sexual consent as a leftist invention, at one point saying, men over time “have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it.” During the 1992 presidential campaigns, Rush told Time magazine feminism “was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society” and later called the term “feminazi” one of his favorite epithets. Just within the past week, he has claimed the President reminded him to never apologize for homophobic remarks against Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, who Limbaugh said would be made fun of by “Mr. Man Donald Trump.” The Presidential Medal of Freedom has been awarded to Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, Sidney Poitier, Georgia O’Keeffe, Tom Hanks, Stevie Wonder, and more. But now, Trump has used the grand stage of his third State of the Union Address to give it to an unabashed bigot. Sadly, that only seemed to fit in with the night.