This past Tuesday I sat myself in my usual spot on the sofa recliner, and with drink and snack within reach, steeled myself to watch the President give the annual State of the Union address. I wasn't expecting oratory worthy of William Jennings Bryant, Abraham Lincoln, or Clarence Darrow, or even Ronald Reagan, but I did hope for some cogent thoughts delivered in the manner and with language of an average college graduate. Boy was I ever disappointed. As usual Mr. Trump reverted to his standard elementary school phrases, such as one of his favorites, “very, very bad things” (have happened/are happening/will happen). Although disappointing, I could get past that.
The one thing that drove me away from the speech, although I did keep going back from time to time, was the seemingly -- at least to me -- orchestrated and choreographed standing ovations from the Republican contingent after every utterance by the Prez. No matter how innocuous the statement, when he took time to inhale, that part of the audience stood, applauded for just about 15 to 20 seconds, and then sat back down in unison. That was extremely distracting to me and I lost track of whatever point he was trying to make.
I did hear some of his disingenuous calls for bipartisan cooperation and compromise, things he has eschewed so far in his term. I also heard the parts of the all-too-long speech that sounded like things one would say when accepting the nomination for the office at the Republican convention while pandering to his shrinking base. To be fair, I did hear some ideas that were almost universally acceptable to the American public. On those occasions, even the white clad, newly elected, Democratic women rose to applaud.
Whether the ideas broached were partisan or not, most of them lacked specifics as to how those things could or would be accomplished. On one occasion though he did call for $500 million, over 10 years, to be spent of childhood cancer research. A very worthy cause. However several commentators later confirmed that during his term, President Obama got nearly twice that amount from Congress. Just saying.
On the whole, this speech was unremarkable and ultimately forgettable. It wasn't a positive declaration of the American spirit and resolve nor was it one that made me more than proud to be a citizen of the greatest country on Earth. It simply was a speech that lasted roughly an hour and a half.
I did pay attention to the Democratic response by the loser of the Georgia governor's race, Stacey Abrams. She was upbeat and positive during her allotted 7 ½ minutes although to me she spent too much time relating her family history. That was interesting background information, but a little more “meat and potatoes” in her oration would have been nice. Unfortunately, or not, like all of the response speeches except for the ones with really major screw-ups, it will be forgotten in a couple of days, if it hasn't been already.
All in all, I think that the time I spent trying to glean some nugget from the speech was wasted. At this point I think that the President should follow some great advice, “lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.” At this point I'd like him to get out of the way and let those who have some clue as to how to run the government do it.
Bill Kennedy writes every other week from Taneytown. You may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.