State of the Union: Poison or Pride? Depends Who You Ask

The 2018 Presidential State of the Union address was the third longest on record, and one can’t help but believe clapping had something to do with it. In a speech that was comprised of several personal stories that served to underscore greater achievements made during the first year of the Trump presidency, the Republicans’ appreciation for what may have been the most conservative-minded first year ever undertaken by a president was apparent.

What most on the right have reasonably gathered to be a strong, consistent, yet inclusive tone throughout the speech is, naturally, being bedeviled by those on the left. Where some see beauty, others see a beast.

“Each day since [my inauguration], we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission -- to make America great again for all Americans.” (CNN transcript)

Reaction from the right: ‘see, he wants all Americans to prosper’.

Reaction from the left: ‘gasp! Make American great again? The racial undertones are undeniable!’

This is the state of the union. Though the president did his part in attempting to foster unity and encourage lawmakers alike 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,” it remains clearer than ever in the day after the address that those who came into the speech opposed to Donald Trump will not have their minds changed. Not by job creation, wage inflation, historic minority unemployment lows, vows to take on the opioid epidemic or even to allow Dreamers a path to citizenship.

Analysis: Dueling Trumps deliver a State of the Union speech likely to widen a deep partisan divide (LA Times)

ANALYSIS: In State of the Union, Trump's contradictions were on display (ABC News)

State of the Union just fine for those turning blind eyes to Trump (Chicago Tribune)

State of the Union analysis: Trump's speech was remarkable for what he didn't say (USA Today)

Trump's Speech Exposed the GOP's Lack of Direction (Bloomberg)

CNN’s Van Jones: “He was selling sweet-tasting candy with poison in it.”

It’s going to be another fun-loving, kumbaya-type year on Capitol Hill, folks.

But the guaranteed opposition that will always be there no matter what the president does or how he does it did not stop the president from using some illuminating individual examples in proving that his administration has, in fact, made great strides in only the first year of his presidency. The prospect of these real, human examples being compiled for four, let alone eight, years in office is understandably frightening for a Democratic party more used to dealing in excuses than results. They have to fight harder than, spin harder than ever, to #Resist.

There was Trump’s shout out just minutes into his address to the Cajun Navy for their heroic role in getting their boats out, traveling to the greater Houston region from their (primarily) Louisiana-based abodes, and rescuing countless in need as the waters from Hurricane Harvey rose and roiled. Having invited the founder of the Cajun Navy to attend in what would be a common theme, this choice of a blue-collar, often underappreciated segment of society that showed their value to America in the direst of hours underscored what Trump has been all about since his campaign began: highlighting the importance and dignity of the little guy by using his platform as a big shot.

His acknowledgment of Steve Scalise, the Louisiana congressman who was critically wounded by a deranged gunman who opened fire during a GOP baseball practice, drew a rousing ovation from both sides of the aisle. One couldn’t help but feel that, in the moment, there was a rare sense of genuine empathy in the room, as the attempted murder of a Congressman strikes close to home for nearly everyone in attendance. It was one of the most poignant, honest ovations of the evening, and a bipartisan show of support and admiration.

From there, it became clear that partisan tensions ran as high as they have for the past year-plus. The Democrat side of the aisle would stand for the obligatory, I’ll-look-like-a-heartless-bastard-if-I-don’t moments which acknowledged specific people such as Preston Sharp.

“Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans' graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes. Preston: a job well done,” Trump said frankly.

But, as was often the case, one could virtually feel through their television or computer screen the skepticism of Democrats as Trump pointed to statistics and realities that should be above partisan disagreement, but clearly weren’t. I noticed early on the head of New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker, a walking, talking, gesturing blueprint of a younger Barack Obama, and it became apparent early on that he was exasperated at all the standing, all the clapping. He, and many of his colleagues on his side of the aisle, were noticeable in their choice to stand or not stand during certain ovations.

Perhaps they felt slighted, or that President Trump was somehow taking indirect shots at the eight years of President Obama through disclosing his massive list of accomplishments in only one year. This one clearly struck a nerve, if you were to judge by the number and enthusiasm of those who stood to applaud and, more tellingly, those who chose not to.

“Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”

The Congressional Black Caucus, as the camera panned directly to them in their African-themed ties and scarfs, had one single member of their approximate 20-deep coalition even applaud, let alone stand. In fact, they were straight up scowling.

The Congressional Black Caucus not applauding historically low African-American unemployment!

What Barack promised, Donald did. Telling.

The camera panning to a steaming Nancy Pelosi or a particularly-villainous looking Chuck Schumer – even by Chuck Schumer standards – ceased to get old.

There was plenty for them to steam about, as the Democrats don’t like to see a Republican, especially Donald Trump, succeed. For that will continue to mean Americans succeeding, growing fonder of the President, and moving further away from the Democrats’ adopted platform of rage, grievance, and fury. It was truly a barrage of stats that Democrats simply couldn’t spin-zone away from.

  • “Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value. That is great news for Americans' 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.”
  • “To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also doubled the child tax credit.”
  • “A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 -- slashing their tax bill in half.”
  • We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year -- forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans.” (Thanks, Obama)
  • We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.”

And it went on, and on, and on from there. We heard personal examples of individuals who had tangibly benefited from these policies, most of them in attendance to put a real face on the real progress. To boot – and this made the Democrats particularly steamed – Trump would consistently and deftly frame these stats under the umbrella of American unity.

“Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of Nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family. We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.”

You could virtually see Nancy holding herself back from popping out of her seat and screaming.


Trump brought light to his ending the war on American energy, cited Detroit as an example of his dedication to American auto manufacturing, and the countless companies bringing thousands of jobs back State-side thanks to the corporate tax cuts. He professed his belief that the pharmaceutical industry should be de-oligopolized.

“We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives.

People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure -- I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the "right to try."”

He also set an agenda for the future, calling on Congress to get an infrastructure bill passed, which will surely create more jobs, yet doing so in a manner that involves private investment as to not overly-burden the taxpayer.

More investment in job training, paid family leave for working families, prison reform and second chances for released inmates, immigration reform, the rooting out of MS-13, other gangs, and terrorists, attacking the opioid crisis through rehabilitation, extinguishing ISIS, and so on.

His admonishing address of North Korea, his vow to continue to build our nuclear arsenal, and calls to Congress to build up the military will be the focus of his, as the Democrats will pose it, ‘bi-polarity’. To those who are not prone to hate with a closed mind, it was clearly the duality of compassion and strength, and that is what America has always been about (pardon the cliché).

Those calls to strength were consistently balanced by stories like this.

“Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca. Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: "You will do it -- because you can." He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.”

It was a speech that few can substantively point to and criticize. Of course, Democrats did come up with many a way to criticize the speech, none of them substantive. Platitudes, platitudes, platitudes.

In case you were searching, we found the poison that Van Jones was alluding to. It is the phrase that no Democrat ever wants to hear. It’s almost surprising that the entire side of the aisle didn’t immediately put their hands over their ears, screaming ‘I CAN’T HEAR YOU, I CAN’T HEAR YOU!’ as soon as they realized what was being said.

“We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day's work. We want every child to be safe in their home at night. And we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.”

“We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.”

The poison! The horror! The racial undertones! The death of the Democratic party!

The Donald.

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