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Assault on America, Day 399: Magnanimous Trump wows Congress and country with SOTU

Rush at SOTU
Donald Trump is most magnanimous man in Washington DC.

For vocabulary challenged folks, magnanimous means, “generous, high-minded, noble, big, worthy, upright, benevolent, altruistic, considerate, kindly, forgiving, fair and titled.” It’s definitely not petty, which is an antonym to “magnanimous.”

Such is the impression sensible observers took from President Trump’s third State-of-the-Union address on Tuesday night. Perhaps because of the Iowa Democrat caucuses results debacle the previous evening -- and the small matter of impeachment -- the tension surrounding the event was so thick you could cut it with a knife (isn’t it true every year though?). Perhaps not since Big Bubba Bill Clinton delivered his 1999 SOTU in the midst of his own impeachment drama have the two sides (Republicans and Democrats) been further apart in their respective takes on the way things ought to be in America. To his credit, Clinton did an admirable job of ignoring the swirling storm around him back then, and Trump followed suit this year.

The show trial -- or at least the farcical official portion of it -- supposedly ends today when the senate votes down the House’s two articles of impeachment. It seems like forever ago now, but Nancy Pelosi’s caucus (all but three of them -- two no’s and one present) affirmed the charges dreamed up by partisan trolls Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler. Then San Fran Nan inexplicably held on to the papers for weeks before deciding to have them transported to the senate side with as much exaggerated phony pomp and circumstance as she and her henchmen could muster.

The impeachment trial was as ridiculous as one would imagine, or at least the endless droning hours of House managers restating and arguing their case ad nauseum. I doubt anyone watched it for lengthy periods of time. If anything, there was a tangible sense of relief on Tuesday night that there’s an ending in sight -- at least on the Republican side.

But the real mystery is what happens afterward. Trump himself attempted to answer the “what now?” question during his lengthy speech in the House chamber (which concluded just before 10:30 p.m. EST). Sometimes it seems as though Trump purposely speaks at length so as to take up more time the Democrats would otherwise use to investigate and prosecute him for some perceived wrong.

Instead of taking the Democrats to task for the accumulated total of their sins, Trump mostly extended his hand and an olive branch to his political enemies (except most notably to Nancy Pelosi), drawing numerous standing ovations from Republicans and stony catatonic stares from Democrats who clearly weren’t in the mood to come back to the “we’re all together now” fold. Face it, they’re embarrassed and humiliated, a feeling that’s become all too common during Trump’s political career. Too many times Democrats predicted Trump’s doom only to have him defy their dreary forecasts. On Tuesday he took his time speaking before the nation and ticking down a long list of accomplishments.

Whether Trump’s words result in improved partisan cooperation in the coming weeks and months is doubtful, though the president’s tone was all about getting past the current impasse. It was almost un-Trumpian in attitude and probably what we’ll see a lot of during the campaign (not at his rallies, though).

Some conservatives nudged Trump to take a different approach. Kurt Schlichter wrote at Townhall earlier this week, “And overall this smoking Democratic wreckage looms Donald Trump, bellowing in laughter as his poll numbers rise. The economy is booming. He has signed great new trade deals. We are ending the elite’s idiotic wars. And it is looking like Nancy Pelosi will have even more reason to drink herself into sputtering incoherence over next November when we take back the House.

“It’s a painful time to be a Democrat. Good. Because Democrats chose to be terrible, and their agony should refresh and inspire us. Graciousness in victory? Pass. They tried to take us out by taking out the guy we elected. They tried to make sure we could never have a say in our own country ever again. They tried, and because they suck, they failed.”

It’s true, Trump very well could have taken a victory lap around his dejected and defeated opposition on Tuesday night, but he didn’t. Instead, the president of the United States acted, well, “presidential” in his delivery and content of the speech, pausing numerous times for emphasis and constantly looking to his right -- at the Democrats pretending to be present. If it wasn’t obvious to the lay observer (if there are any left after all the political gamesmanship in the capital lately), Trump was clearly speaking to the folks in the middle of the voting spectrum, the “independent” ones who could decide the election in November.

Otherwise, Trump could’ve easily taken Schlichter’s road and danced a little jig at the obvious stomach cramps and dour frustration the Democrats were living through during his monologue. Pelosi frowned and cast her eyes downward practically the whole time, becoming animated once again to shake her head, mumble something to Vice President Mike Pence, or occasionally applaud one of Trump’s highlighted guests (but not Rush Limbaugh, of course). What great theater. Who needs to peck at the Democrats when they do so well to impale themselves on their own on national TV?

Of course Republican voters are already locked up for Trump. And Democrats have long-since given up listening to his appeals, with surveys showing near unanimity in their party’s desire to remove the president via impeachment. It’s as though liberals no longer heed the calls of reason or the precedents of history when assessing contemporary actions. Everyone knows conservatives didn’t have much use for Obama during his eight years but there were few if any demands to kick him out of office in the constitutional sense.

Conservatives are the ones who accept a referee’s bad call, gripe and moan about it for a couple seconds and warn of possible repercussions -- but at the end of the day, we shake hands and head home. Democrats file grievances with the league office and then pursue a legal resolution if that doesn’t work. And as impeachment demonstrated, they’re relentless.

Trump wasn’t about to let them get away with their excesses on Tuesday night -- at least in terms of bragging about the greatness and potential of America, something he’s really good at. As is true every year, the president enjoys a huge public relations advantage with the bully pulpit. It’s true, Democrats do get a “response” to every SOTU address, though by that time people are heading for the proverbial exits and have already switched off the TV.

(Note: This year’s Democrat response was apparently given by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar… I didn’t watch. I’m surprised Adam Schiff wasn’t recruited to give a last-ditch pitch to impeach Trump. I’m sure he begged for the chance.)

As would be expected, Trump devoted a healthy portion of his time to discussing the many achievements of his administration. The excellent economic numbers -- historically low unemployment rate, consistent economic growth, rising incomes, etc., what Trump described as a “blue-collar boom” -- bolstered his arguments that his policies are succeeding. And working folks with spare change in their pockets are happy voters.

The fact that Trump’s approval ratings remain underwater is troubling (though polls are steadily improving). We live in strange times. Surveys show Americans are much more content with the direction of the country than they were four years ago, but they don’t necessarily credit Trump (through approval ratings) for the improvement. And that’s odd. If the polls are correct -- and there’s a lot of evidence to suggest they aren’t -- Trump has failed to make inroads in certain constituencies Republicans used to do well with.

Which could be a reason why the president seemingly went out of his way to emphasize healthcare reforms on Tuesday night. Next to the economy, healthcare is high on the priority lists of ordinary Americans, so Trump could conceivably break down some of his unpopularity barriers by urging Congress to get beyond politics and find an acceptable solution. Good luck with it… Democrats still believe they’ve solved everything through the decade-old Obamacare fiasco, even though the Trump administration has virtually gutted the law to the point where it’s no longer recognizable.

Fiscal conservatives and libertarians would argue healthcare should be left to the states and the free market rather than having Uncle Sam add his input, but that ship has apparently sailed. If someone’s going to set the rules at the federal level it might as well be people like Jim Jordan in the House and Ted Cruz in the senate navigating the course.

There were other issue highlights in the speech, again, tailored towards (or perhaps a preview of?) Trump’s fall campaign emphasis. Particularly encouraging was Trump devoting a good bloc of time to school choice, something parents of both party affiliations and all income strata can relate to. It doesn’t take a genius to figure enacting school choice would be extremely popular in inner cities with teacher union dominated bureaucracies and administrator stagnation dictating policy. Trump brought in a cute-as-a-button fourth grader and her mom from Philadelphia to humanize the point, then awarded her an opportunity scholarship on national TV. Again, terrific moment.

Democrats have consistently stonewalled any proposal for education reform, always demanding more money despite the demonstrated failure of the current system, all the while sending their kids to expensive private schools. If a slumlord is forced (by a judge) to live in his building as a punishment, shouldn’t elected lawmakers be “sentenced” to enrolling their kids and grandkids in local public schools? Why did the Clintons and Obamas place their youngins’ in ritzy private academies?

If Trump can change public education, it could remake the American political system.

Also as expected, Trump spent many minutes talking about immigration. He mentioned, again, how Congress must act to combat the problem of uninvited newcomers streaming across the border as well as the dire need to tweak the legal immigration laws to prioritize skilled applicants who actually contribute to the economic growth. And to end sanctuary cities, citing the crime they invite (Trump had another emotional moment here with a guest whose brother was murdered by an illegal alien). This is a yearly thing with Trump and it will probably take a second term -- and a lot more Republicans in Congress -- to see meaningful progress. Until that time, Trump will use military money to construct the wall and do the best he can to see the laws enforced.

The president isn’t a dictator, but he must find means to execute his job if Congress won’t fulfill its obligations. Judging by Nancy Pelosi’s sneers and facial expressions on Tuesday night, don’t hold your breath. The woman even tore up his speech at the end. What a hag.

Lastly, as has become an annual tradition, President Trump highlighted a plethora of guests in the gallery to emphasize his various policy points and proposals. In past years there’ve been widows, North Korean defectors and military heroes to applaud and recognize. This year, among others, there was a 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman, an award-winning U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief (Raul Ortiz) and Army veteran Tony Rankins, whose story was especially touching (a former homeless man). An emotional highlight, for sure!

Then there was the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh -- during the speech. It was an unbelievable moment.

Government policies (such as Trump’s Opportunity Zone Program) do work if stripped of politically correct barriers and excessive bureaucracy. Americans have always been great believers in a hand-up rather than a hand-out. President Trump has always been an excellent advocate for the people, even if his political opposition won’t acknowledge it.

Every year the president’s State of the Union Address receives more than its share of commentary from the media and punditry, but Trump’s latest iteration might have more staying power than most. The magnanimous president faced real challenges on Tuesday evening and overcame them all. A very Trumpian performance, indeed.

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