Takeaways From the SOTU Address

President Trump delivered a pretty good speech last night that, at various times, managed to manipulate Democrats, forced them to own uncomfortable positions and, on several occasions, even required them to applaud.

If CNN’s post-address poll is any indication, he may have won over some tentative voters. It showed that 76% of viewers approved of the speech, 59% of viewers called it “very positive.”

A CBS flash poll revealed similar favorable results. 76% of their viewers approved Trump’s speech. Most significantly, 72% approved of the President’s ideas for immigration.

Powerline’s John Hinderaker offered his explanation for such positive approval numbers.

Trump’s unifying vision of American greatness appeals to most Americans, when they actually hear him articulate it.

The job of the press is to filter voters’ access to Trump and spin events so as to convey a negative view. We see this every day; this CNN headline, anticipating last night’s speech, typifies how far gone the press is in partisanship: Trump preps for SOTU, plans to tout record despite polls. It just about always helps the president when voters see him for themselves. That was certainly true last night.

The most entertaining feature of the evening was watching the expressions and gestures of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her contempt for Trump was apparent throughout the address. Her emotions alternated between anger, scorn and fear. Frequently rearranging pages of the transcript she picked up at uncomfortable moments during the speech, Pelosi appeared ill at ease and awkward.

Social media was rife with theories about why Pelosi kept returning to the pages.

Here’s one.

Here’s another.

Call me catty (you wouldn’t be the first), but when she is really rattled, she does odd things with her mouth. It appears as if she is trying to remove food from between her teeth with her tongue. Gross, I know.

Obviously, the left saw things differently. MSNBC’s Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted that “Even Madame Speaker Pelosi is looking at Trump’s speech wondering when the racism and bigotry will stop.”

 

The most memorable, incredible and heartening moment of the night came during Trump’s discussion of how well women have fared in today’s strong economy.

Trump received a bipartisan standing ovation when he said, “No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the work force than ever before.”

As the audience sat down, he said “Don’t sit yet. You’re going to like this.”

Trump said: “And exactly one century after the Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.”

Following this remark, everyone rose and Republicans began chanting “USA, USA, USA” and amazingly, slowly and quietly at first, then more robustly, the Democrats joined in. This was an extraordinary and unlikely moment.

Actually, it was a miracle. This segment is captured in the video below.

 

Another big moment came when Trump vowed that “America will never be a Socialist country.” Please go to 0:30 in the video below. Republicans greeted this statement with vigorous applause. The Democrats, on the other hand, were less enthusiastic. One look at the faces of Nancy Pelosi and socialists Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) reveals their disagreement and anger with this message.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzoT919C8ZM

Ted Cruz appeared on “Hannity” following the address and weighed in on the Democrats’ reaction to Trump’s comments about socialism.

I think my favorite moment in the speech was when the president said, ‘We will never become a socialist country.’ And the look of terror — OK, somebody needs to a make a horror film, to the theme from ‘Halloween,’ because you see the Democrats terrified. About half of them stood and half of them didn’t. That photograph needs to be remembered for a long time. Every Democrat who sat has just told their constituents they want America to be a socialist country. Many of the other Democrats who stood, they wanted also, but they will at least going to pretend for a little while longer. But they sorted the wheat from the chaff, as they say, and they did in front of the whole country.

Trump’s tone was mostly positive throughout the speech as he took his audience through his long list of accomplishments. It was impressive indeed.

Trump’s tribute to survivors of the Holocaust and to the US soldiers who liberated them provided many poignant moments. As did his recognition and words of admiration for former prison inmates, Alice Walker and Matthew Charles.

Perhaps the most emotional moment came when Trump introduced Timothy Matson, the hero police officer who was shot seven times as he pursued the killer during the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October. So far, Matson has endured twelve surgeries as a result of the wounds he sustained on that day.

Appearing with Matson was Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor, who narrowly escaped death during the Tree of Life massacre.

Trump expressed his feelings about the Special Counsel probe as well as investigations which are currently being organized by House Democrats. He said “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!”

It was impossible to miss the many Democratic lawmakers dressed in white as a tribute to the suffrage movement. This effort was initiated by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), who told USA Today their goal was to send a “loud and clear message of solidarity that we’re not going back on our hard-earned rights.” She added “We wear white to unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century, and we will continue to support the advancement of all women. We will not go back.”

Since we have been allowed to vote for 100 years and opportunities for American women have never been greater, this can only be about maintaining their right to late term abortion, or infanticide.

I was a little surprised to see Tiffany Trump (seated across the aisle from the rest of the family) and DJT Jr’s girlfriend, Kimberley Guilfoyle, wearing white as well.

Democrats were angry that Trump did not once mention climate change, which they claim is an existential threat to mankind. CNN’s John King called this omission “a disgrace.” Nor did he mention the recent partial government shutdown.

Defeated Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams was selected to deliver the rebuttal to the speech. It’s being reported that she did not watch the address. Instead, Abrams “decided to focus the Democratic rebuttal on Trump administration policies, rather than the specifics of his Tuesday night speech.”

Can you imagine being asked to rebut the SOTU and not watching it?

All in all, Trump’s speech was both well-written and well-delivered. It was as effective as any State of the Union can be. But SOTU addresses generally don’t do much to move the political needle. Trump’s supporters will continue to support him and his enemies will remain his enemies. However, if the CNN and CBS flash polls are any indication, Trump may have lured some undecided voters off the fence which can only be a positive.

 

  • The full transcript of the SOTU address can be read here.