Near the end of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union message, the third-longest in American history at one hour and 20 minutes, he proclaimed, in what neatly summed up the theme of his speech, “It’s the people who are making America great again!”
Fox News commentator Mollie Hemingway remarked moments after the conclusion of Tuesday’s speech that it was conservative — much more conservative than the two previous Republican presidents (the two Bush presidents) ever delivered.
Indeed, most of Trump’s conservative base no doubt loved most of the speech. In a speech interrupted 115 times by applause, he did not shy away from the message of his campaign, but he made it clear that his desire was to “make America great again for all Americans.”
As has been mandatory for American presidents since Ronald Reagan began the practice during his two terms, Trump introduced a string of Americans in the gallery, sitting near First Lady Melania Trump — a firefighter in the recent California fires; parents of little girls murdered by MS-13, illustrating the dangers of illegal alien gangs; a businessman and one of his employees benefitting from the recent tax cuts; and the parents of Otto Wambier, who was brutally tortured by the North Korean communist dictatorship for allegedly trying to steal a political sign.
A new policy introduced during the speech was an executive order he issued “just before coming into” the House chamber, which keeps the facilities open at Guantanamo Bay.
Trump began his speech touting the great economic successes of his first year in office, including the addition of 2.4 million new jobs, with 200,000 jobs added in manufacturing alone. “After years of stagnant wages,” Trump noted, Americans are finally experiencing rising real wages, and unemployment claims have reached a 45-year low.
The stock market has gained $8 trillion in value, Trump said, explaining that this translates into the growing of retirement pensions and college savings accounts.
Turning to the tax reform bill, Trump said that the first $24,000 of income for a married couple is now “tax free,” while the business tax rate has been cut from 35 to 21 percent, enabling “American companies to compete and win.” It was also credited with three million workers receiving bonuses. Apple has hired 200,000 more workers, and Exxon Mobil has announced a $50 billion investment in the United States.
Yet, when Trump announced that the unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanic Americans was at the lowest rate “ever recorded,” the TV cameras showed African American members of Congress sitting — stone-faced.
Pointing out a 12-year-old boy in the gallery who had led an effort to get flags placed on the graves of 40,000 American veterans, Trump said it reminds us of why we proudly stand for the National Anthem. He added that, in America, faith and family — not the government — are the center of American life.
Mentioning his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Trump lamented that dozens of countries in the United Nations had chosen to react by voting against America’s decision, including nations that had received billions of dollars in American aid. Trump vowed that he had taken names, and in the future, foreign assistance would go to “friends of America, not enemies of America.”
Trump introduced the contentious topic of immigration by reminding the members of Congress, “Americans are dreamers, too.” He asked members of both parties to fulfill their oaths to protect Americans, telling them that it was the duty of every person in the chamber to defend Americans first. After introducing C.J. Martinez, and ICE officers, whose team had arrested hundreds of illegal alien gang members, Trump promised to send him “reinforcements.”
Covering his bipartisan plan to give amnesty (although he did not call it that) to nearly two million illegal immigrants — the “Dreamers” — which he boasted was three times as much as the previous administration covered, he promised to give these illegal aliens citizenship over a 12-year period. In exchange, he called for a fully-secured border, with a “great wall,” and the end of “catch and release,” along with the end of the visa lottery system. He received some groans from the Democratic side of the aisle when he mentioned the end of “chain migration,” promising to limit sponsorship to spouses and minor children. Finally, he promised that the final immigration legislation would be an “iron-clad bill that puts America first.”
Probably the closest to boos from the Democrats came when he proudly proclaimed that the “individual mandate,” which Trump called the “core” of ObamaCare, is now dead, as a result of the tax bill.
While conservatives would be reassured with most of his speech, peppered with remarks about “judges who will interpret the Constitution as written,” and “totally defending the Second Amendment and religious liberty,” along with the proclamation that “we have ended the war against American energy and the war on beautiful clean coal,” there were a few parts of the speech that were troubling.
Trump promised to build “great vocational schools” (even though education is not one of the few and defined powers of the federal government), and he called for “paid family leave” (another policy that has no constitutional support in the enumerated powers listed in the Constitution). However, for the most part, it was a conservative speech. As Hemingway said, none of the State of the Union messages of the 12 years of Bush presidencies came close to matching this one.
But then again, that is not a high hurdle.
Photo of President Trump: Whitehouse.gov