Wednesday, February 06, 2019

The State of the Union

76%. That – according to a CBS poll taken last night - is the percentage of Americans that approved of the President’s State of the Union Address last night. And yet according to a Rasmussen Poll he only has a 48% approval rating among likely voters.

That is quite a disparity. How is it is possible that so many approve of what the President said last night while at the same time so many disapprove of his performance in office?

It is possible and I can relate.  President Trump’s demeanor in office does not rise to a level that would garner much respect. His moral character leaves a lot to be desired as was shown in his recorded comments about how he sees women. As does his affairs as a  married man with a prostitute and a Playboy model .

His exaggerations; his outright lies; and his diarrhea of the brain via his tweets are well beneath the dignity of his office. He is a vindictive person with a penchant for ‘getting even’ with his ‘enemies’ (ala Richard Nixon and his enemies list). His use of disparaging comments knows no bounds. His attacks on the media don’t help him either. 

The Mueller investigation into whether there was any collusion with the Russians during the campaign and whether there was any obstruction of justice add to his negative numbers too. And there is the relentless attack by his political opponents whose liberal/left politics see his mostly conservative polices as anathema to their definition of American values. All of  that (and more) impacts on his approval ratings. I'm surprised they aren't even lower. Nothing new here.  

So why the high approval last night? For one thing he did something last night he is not accustomed to doing. He sounded Presidential. There was nothing he said that remotely resembled the vast majority of his tweets or his off the cuff comments during a press conference.  

But I think it’s more than that. I think the American people actually approved of what he was saying. Not just the way he said it. Aside from promoting his out-sized ego and his exaggerations, there is quite a bit of accomplishment.  Of the type 76% of Americans approved. This despite supposed unpopularity of his signature campaign promise, building a physical barrier on America’s southern border in the most vulnerable areas. Which he strongly promoted last night (and is something I personally happen to agree with for reasons beyond the scope of this post.)

My own take on his speech matches my view of his polices. I generally approve of what has happened since he has been in office. The economy is in the best shape it has been in decades. Unemployment is at historic lows. Including historic lows for black people and other  minorities. His tax policies are incentivizing companies to return here that fled because of the former high corporate tax rates. That has generated more jobs for more Americans. Religious rights that  are in the process of being eviscerated by well meaning (but in my view misguided) civil rights legislation – have been restored.

But what I really felt good about was the unprecedented focus on issues that affect the Jewish people. Showing that these are also American issues. He began by reminding people about  the American greatness demonstrated by our invasion of Nazi occupied Europe at Normandy during the World War II. 

His only mention of Israel was the justifiable pride he took in keeping a promise made during the campaign by moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. 

He reminded  us just how evil Iran's Islamist, terror exporting regime is and why he ended a nuclear deal that was in my view extremely flawed (to put it mildly) and replacing it with one of the most severe sanctions regime ever placed on another country.

He also demanded that antisemitism be eradicated in this country. He focused on a Holocaust survivor and the American army that liberated of Dachau - one of the Nazi Death camps designed to exterminate the Jewish people. He invited a Pittsburgh SWAT team member that was seriously injured during the capture of the rabid antisemite who slaughtered 11 innocent Jewish worshipers on a Shabbos while they were in attendance at the tree of Life Synagogue. He also invited an 81 year old survivor of that massacre who also survived the Holocaust over 70 years ago!  

This part of the address was a grand moment for America and shows what we are all about as a nation. And how American military might continues to insure those values.

But that wasn’t the only grand moment. It was particularly poignant when he featured 2 black people who were given draconian prison sentences for relatively minor crimes. One was a black woman sentenced to a life term in prison! ...but proved herself to be a woman of great virtue while there. He pardoned her. The other was a black man who in prison for a similarly minor offence with a similarly long sentence that was the beneficiary of the recently adopted Prison Reform Bill. He is now free.

I realize that those to my left will spin all of his accomplishments into non accomplishments or worse. As an example Senator Cory Booker (an announced candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in the next election) couldn’t wait to discredit his condemnation of antisemitism by pointing out that how he failed to condemn Nazis who marched in Charlottesville last year. As if that outweighed what the President said last night.

It is clear that the liberal/left will not view his address last night with any favor at all. They will predictably rip it apart and not give him credit for anything. They want him out of office. Not so much because of his demeanor or character. But because of his politics. Thankfully the vast majority of this country (76%) disagrees.

This does not of course diminish the President’s problems. And they are huge… maybe even ‘impeachment worthy’. Nor will it change his disgusting un-presidential behavior in office. I am certain for example that he will continue his stupid tweeting and attacking everyone he doesn’t like including the media. But last night for one brief shilling moment, Donald J. Trump was a President that I could be proud of. Too bad that feeling probably won’t  last.