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Early in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Trump declared “the state of our union is stronger than ever before.” Behind him, Pelosi sucked her teeth while the Democrats seethed. And thus begins the 2020 re-election campaign. (We can’t count Iowa as the beginning since Dems still haven’t figured out who won.)
Instead of lofty words, Trump opened with a litany of facts and figures. Lowest unemployment in 50 years. Unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans at the lowest level in history. African-American poverty at the lowest rate ever recorded. Female unemployment the lowest in 70 years.
Democrats sat stone-faced, grumbling amongst themselves as the good news piled up. Most impressive was that these are verifiable facts, not spin or vague promises.
Much of the first 30 minutes kept returning to the success of Black Americans over the past three years, pointing to heroes in the gallery, and insisting this is only the beginning. Despite ubiquitous accusations of “racism,” Trump’s detractors can’t argue with the data. The President is making a strong appeal to African-American voters, not with rhetoric but numbers. The Democrats have to be very nervous as even a five percent shift would wreak havoc in the Electoral College.
He also portrayed the 2020 choice as socialism vs. freedom. “Socialism destroys nations, but always remember, freedom unifies the soul,” he said to Republicans’ cheers and Democrats’ groans. Basically, we can keep the good times rolling or follow Maduro’s Venezuela.
After that, Trump kicked the showmanship into high-gear. He cheered a centenarian Tuskegee Airman (who somehow looks half his age); gave Rush Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom on the spot; granted a scholarship to a low-income child; and presented a returning soldier to his shocked wife and kids. I half-expected Trump to give everyone a free car, Oprah-style.
These moments aren’t totally new (Lenny Skutnik, anyone?) but Trump brought them to a new level. As a curmudgeon, I’d prefer a SOTU submitted in written form, bled white of emotion and the sparest rhetorical flourish. But we live in a televisual, viral age — an era Trump has dominated for decades. And tonight, he dominated utterly.
The Democrats faced the night in a sorry state. The party that wants to take over healthcare was incapable of counting votes in a small state. A large chunk of their base thinks DNC leaders are fixing the primary contest. Pelosi’s impeachment gambit has collapsed. Trump just received his highest approval rating ever in the Gallup Poll.
And their two leading candidates are a 78-year-old Bolshevik and a 77-year-old who speaks like he just wandered out of a home.
Pelosi was so mad she ripped up Trump’s address as it ended.
Good luck in November, Dems. You’re going to need it.