Only in Trumpland America could we have the State of the Union address the night before the Senate is to vote on the impeachment of the President! You can’t make this up. But it illustrates how rapidly the impeachment issue has been relegated to the back burner and totally dismissed by most attentive observers–it was a total failure, politically and substantively, and serious damage has been done to the body politic. Sen. Mitch McConnell, in his own inimitable way, summed it up best: “We have watched a major American political party adopt the following absurd proposition–we think this president is a bull in a china shop, so we’re going to drive a bulldozer through the china shop to get rid of him”.
But in fact, as he delivered his speech, the latest Gallup Poll showed Trump’s approval rating had increased to 49%, the highest since his election. This obviously reflects growing confidence in the strength of the economy, but also probably includes a significant amount of displeasure with the Democrats attributed to the impeachment fiasco.
In the speech, he hit every key button on the strength of the economy, chastised support for socialized health care, indicated strong support for school choice, spoke out forcefully against late stage abortions, reminded the audience of his two Supreme Court appointees, criticized state governments that have established “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants, applauded the U. S. military for taking out Iranian General Soleimani, and had something for almost everyone in his choice of the special guests he introduced, particularly the tribute to Rush Limbaugh. Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s childish performance during the speech, followed by almost ceremoniously ripping up her copy of it, was a classless act that violated any pretense of dignity and civility that her office should demand.
Clearly, this speech represented the official launch of Trump’s campaign for re-election and we all know that, given his impetuosity, he will find many ways to inflict political problems on himself, but conversely he can take strength from his opponents who are so bound and determined in their hatred and obsession with him that they will continue to make stupid choices, like impeachment.
A final thought: I’ve watched a lot of SOTU speeches over the past half century, but never one that better illustrated how divided we are–literally like being on two different planets–and I don’t know how we get ourselves out of this situation except at the ballot box.