If a headline for the State
Of the Union (SOTU) address was expected to be: "A Truculent Trump
Traduces Democrats", it now could be "Trump Triumphs -- Credits American
People for Year of Successes." The speech was a litany of success
stories, economic and military, illustrated by tales of valor, grit, hard
work, forbearance in the face of tragedy, the actual individuals
involved all present, and, when mentioned, asked to stand to be
applauded. It was enormously upbeat with one sour note -- the Democrats
looking surly, determined not to applaud ... not even the
universalities of Congress, certainly not the tax bill on which they
caved. If truth be told, both sides have the same pay masters. The
speech itself a magician's illusion, a glass not half empty or half
full, but appearing full yet without content when turned over.
The Democrats' response talked of chaos, and the negatives they could muster without seeming to realize that if Trump had credited the American people for the year and its successes, the Democratic response was indirectly blaming the same people for the failures. It fell flat. Attention focused on the white drool collecting on both corners of the speaker's mouth, morphing Joe Kennedy III into a frothing-at-the-mouth, angry young man vandalizing the beautiful portrait painted by the American people and displayed by the President.
Does this mean Mr. Trump has been a good president? No, of course not. He is temperamentally unsuited to the job. In one year, the Union of Concerned Scientists have moved their doomsday clock twice: each time a half minute closer to midnight. It is now at two minutes to, the closest to doom since 1953. They cite increased danger from nuclear weapons, that is proliferation, increased expenditures, improved accuracy and thus greater usability of tactical nuclear weapons, the absence of arms-control talks and a general instability. To that they add the calculated failure to combat climate change, a charge clearly leveled at the Trump administration.
Trump has also been lucky. The world is in a synchronous economic
boom, for the first time since 2010. He is adding to it with a
regressive unfunded tax-package contributing to the stock market's
record highs. For the tax cuts, the bill will come later -- perhaps on
the backs of the same middle class whose paychecks will have more
take-home money from February as the president proudly pointed out.
truth be told, most of our elected representatives are no longer
responsive to the needs of the ordinary voter. Election victories
correlate with political ads on TV, and these cost money. Fundraising
is the name of the game, a time-consuming, lucrative activity that also
makes politicians beholden to major donors. It is a fact Donald Trump
was able to exploit by declaring he was not bought as he was using his
own money -- and it struck a chord with many voters. Of course, his tax
bill will allow him to keep more of it, perhaps even more than he spent
in the election.
Not a bad deal. But then he did claim to have written 'The Art of the Deal', a runaway best seller.