Another State of the Union Address Undermined by Gestures and Conflicts
President Donald J. Trump's third State of the Union address was the tensest yet, amid marked absences and a large white elephant in the room.
On Tuesday, whispers of President Donald Trump's impeachment lingered in the halls of the Capitol as the country prepared to hear the State of the Union Address.
Amid chants of "four more years," the Republican tribe welcomed a president found guilty in the House of Representatives of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, as Trump takes for granted the Republican-led Senate's likely decision to declare him "not guilty," despite the transparency of the evidence.
“Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback,” Trump said in opening his speech. “Tonight I stand before you to share the incredible results. Jobs are booming. Incomes are soaring. Poverty is plummeting. Crime is falling. Confidence is surging. And our country is thriving and highly respected again.”
By overemphasizing unproven accomplishments, the president seemed to be speaking at a political rally, rather than actually talking about what is happening in the country.
Between economic figures inherited from the Obama administration and an unemployment rate that is beginning to decline, the president made remarks like, "Under my administration, 7 million Americans have come off food stamps," when what really happened was that his administration tightened the rules on access to welfare.
When talking about the immigrant community, Trump used one of his favorite campaign lines and blamed several cities around the country for "providing sanctuary to illegal criminal aliens.”
"In sanctuary cities, local officials ordered police to release dangerous criminals to prey upon the public instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed," he said, misrepresenting the mechanisms of protection for undocumented immigrants implemented in those cities.
Although several of his points were close to the truth — such as the success of the U.S.-Mexico/Canada trade agreement, or the death of ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi — the national media's check of the facts in his speech determined that much of his statements were misleading or lacked context.
“President Donald Trump made a striking claim Monday, insisting it was he who ensured that people with preexisting medical problems will always be covered by health insurance,” said the Associated Press. “He wasn’t. He also complained anew that Democrats didn’t allow him to send lawyers to the impeachment inquiry. The opposite is true: Democrats invited him to send lawyers to the inquiry and he said no.”
No wonder, then, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has again taken advantage of the focus of the cameras to make an unmistakable gesture.
In front of the eyes of the entire Congress and millions of Americans, the Democratic representative from California tore her copy of the president's speech in two, later arguing that it was "a manifesto of mistruths.”
The president, for his part, snuck in his own snub when he refused to shake the Speaker's hand when he reached the podium.
"We always extend a hand of friendship," said Pelosi when questioned by journalists about the presidential gesture. "If he rejects it, that’s up to him."
According to Newsweek, Pelosi added that she hoped the president would not give another speech next year.
"We’re expecting another president, nine months from today," she said.