As I sat and watched the State of the Union address last night, three impressions came to mind, possibly influenced by my favorite Clint Eastwood movie, that seemed to encapsulate the speech and its viewers:
Trump’s delivery of the speech was well done. You could even say it was Presidential. He did not go off script and he didn’t self aggrandize. He got to report on a laundry list of good economic news and take credit for it, even if all of it wasn’t his doing. All Presidents do this, so it is not a dig at Trump. He’s just following in his predecessor’s footsteps.
The President also took the time to recognize and thank numerous people who exemplify the spirit of American courage and generosity, and made overtures of reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats to bring everyone together in a spirit of unity. His presentation earned him high marks in snap polls, as 3 out of 4 Americans approved of the speech.
Unfortunately, we then moved past the end zone celebration and into a discussion of new policy initiatives. What followed was a moderate Democrat’s wish list of liberal social priorities and unending spending initiatives. Half the time I didn’t know whether I was listening to Donald Trump or Bill Clinton.
An infrastructure package that is at least $1.5 TRILLION is not a conservative proposal. It is the same kind of thing a Democrat President proposes their first year in office as a payoff to their union allies. This will put money into the pockets of union bosses and some big time builders (who happen to be friends of Donald Trump) but will not really fix our transportation problems (anyone remember those “shovel-ready” jobs under Obama?) In addition, his “seeking private investment” is how we get privately owned roads like the Greenway, “Lexus Lanes,” and $40 tolls on I-66. I have never been a supporter of these kinds of transportation gimmicks.
Paid family and medical leave has been a goal of Democrats since the 1990’s when Bill Clinton got the Family and Medical Leave Act signed into law in 1993. The law requires companies to provide people up to 12 weeks of leave each calendar year for qualifying family or medical related issues without fear of losing their jobs. While the Democrats were only able to get enough support to pass the law with unpaid leave, converting it to paid leave has always been their ultimate goal. Now Trump is on board with making that happen.
Ending the sequester on the military will end one of the best fiscal controls that have been enacted in the last 30 years. It will open up the Defense Department budget to more pork barrel spending and we will return to the days of $300 toilet seats and the construction of weapons and vehicles the military didn’t ask for and doesn’t want.
Then there was the amnesty portion of the evening. Donald Trump proposes to give citizenship to nearly 2 million illegal immigrant “Dreamers” in exchange for a $25 Billion “trust fund” to build the wall (which won’t really be a wall, but more like the Jeb! Bush combination of fencing, electronic surveillance, and maybe some sections of actual wall). Once those 2 million “Dreamers” become citizens and sponsor their families for citizenship, however, it won’t matter anymore as the 2 million will actually turn into about 5 or 6 million new Democrat voters, and then Republicans will never win another national or statewide election again.
Any way you slice it, the policy initiatives proposed by the President last night was a left-of-center buffet of ideas.
Throughout the entire speech, the Democrats looked like they were in a contest to see who could look the most offended (or constipated in some cases). Even when the President spoke about unity, or pride in America, or even honoring our heroes, Democrats sat on their hands and looked like they had eaten some bad guacamole at the “I Love Illegal Immigrants” pre-speech dinner. Their continued clinging to “the resistance” must be based on some focus-grouped strategy to appeal to their base, but it is not winning them any friends in the mushy middle, and just makes them look petty and small. When you can’t stand and clap at the idea of honoring America, you really have lost touch with reality.
All in all, the speech went well for President Trump, and while it may not be a victory for conservative policy, you could chalk this one up as a “win” for the President…at least until he starts tweeting again and blows whatever good will he gained from this speech.