President Donald Trump used his first State of the Union Address last Tuesday night to extol the GOP’s achievements during his first year in office, and to appeal for political unity to make 2018 even better for all Americans.
Speaking directly to a joint session of Congress, and indirectly to the American people and beyond, President Trump hailed what he characterized as the “extraordinary success” of his administration’s first year.
On the economic front, Trump touted the GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for providing tremendous relief for the American people. He cited how “within less than a month of the bill signing, over 260 businesses across all industries announced raises, bonuses, and new investments directly benefiting over 3 million Americans,” with more to come, including larger paychecks for Americans starting this month.
Offering a rare “olive branch” to the Democrats in Congress, Trump said, “Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people.” His call for unity received applause from most Republicans, but practically none from desultory Democrats. Sen. Chuck Schumer and House counterpart Nancy Pelosi looked like they had just shared a bad clam. Pelosi called the middle-class tax relief money “chump change” and “crumbs.”
Trump devoted much of his roughly 80-minute speech to recognizing and honoring American heroes, ordinary people who had done extraordinary things for others. Present in the audience as special guests of the Trumps, they included a police officer and his wife, who adopted the child of a heroin-addicted mother, and an Army staff sergeant who risked his life to save a fellow soldier in combat.
President Trump also paid tribute to the parents of Otto Warmbier, the Virginia college student who died following his 17-month detention in North Korea. And he praised North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho for his daring escape on crutches after losing his leg in captivity. “Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches,” said Trump. The young man responded by waving the crutches proudly over his head.
On the contentious issue of illegal immigration, President Trump reiterated his proposal to grant legal status and a path to citizenship to the so-called “Dreamers,” youngsters illegally brought to the United States by their parents. The quid pro quo for that would be Democratic support in Congress for stricter enforcement of immigration laws, building a wall on the southern border with Mexico, and changing immigration laws to give priority to higher-skilled immigrants.
According to polls I’ve seen, Trump’s first State of the Union Address was widely acclaimed by GOP voters, including his loyal base. It also received favorable reviews from roughly 73 percent of independent voters.
Not bad for starters.
As for President Trump’s second year in office, to paraphrase him, we’ll see.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.