Pundits go into big stage events like the State of the Union address looking for headline “takeaways”, specific proposals that provoke or those that can guarantee surviving at least one news cycle. In this particular one last night, President Trump’s second, most were looking for a major pronouncement on the immigration stalemate and/or the declaration of a national emergency on the border situation, neither of which happened. The two issue-related comments that resonated with me had to do with the President’s commitment to the sanctity of life in the context of recent news about third trimester abortion bills and the pronouncement that “America will never be a socialist country” (as if that should need confirmation). But to me the main thrust of this speech and his message was embodied in the last couple of paragraphs, which will probably not be remembered beyond the end of this week, but which deserve more attention. I quote them in full:
What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered? I ask the men and women of this Congress, look at the opportunities before us. Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead. Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream. We must choose whether we are defined by our differences—or whether we dare to transcend them. We must choose whether we will squander our inheritance—or whether we will proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown. This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit and set our sights on the brightest star.
This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots. This is our future–our fate–and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness. No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together. We must keep America first in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America’s destiny–that one nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world.
Yes, I know–he didn’t write this. But that’s OK; neither did our previous Presidents craft many of their most memorable lines. After all, we haven’t had many Lincolns. But he spoke the lines and the words, and I believe he sincerely meant them, and along with the introductions of his guests for the evening in the gallery, they were the highlights of the event worth remembering and taking to heart.
It was interesting to hear the results of the immediate post-speech polling on the public response. CNN’s poll of those who watched reflected a 59% approval of the speech; a similar poll by CBS reflected 76% approval of the speech and 72% approval of the points on immigration. Say what you want about this guy, but the Democratic left and their fellow travelers in the mainstream media have thrown everything in the book at him for three years, and he is not only surviving, but on balance, he is winning.