As someone who has not been afraid to be critical of some of President Donald Trump’s speeches, I have to say, his State of the Union speech, Tuesday night, was masterfully written and artfully delivered. He had much to share with the American people, and he blended his message perfectly with illustrations, using a sizable number of heroic citizens who were present in the chamber at the capitol during the president’s speech.
But the American public has a short memory. Trump’s speech will quickly be forgotten by most Americans except, possibly, for two things:
- The theme of optimism and positive news about the economy, defense issues and the heroic strength and resilience of the American people. The speech was incredibly well-designed to impart these upbeat impressions into the national psyche, and it will. It won’t be immediately measurable, but, over time, it will become a tangible thing.
- The optics of the speech, in particular the visible reactions of the bitter, partisan, power-starved and deranged Democrats. While the message of prosperity, strength, optimism and heroism permeated the chamber like a nearly visible gas, the sour and pained expressions on the twisted faces of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and other Democrats made them appear as the Wicked Witch to Trump’s Dorothy.
Americans who watched the speech cannot have missed the apparent fact that Democrats are opposed to: economic growth, tax cuts, bonuses for workers, low unemployment, low unemployment for African-Americans and Latinos, success against ISIS, the national anthem and support for veterans. The fact that the entire Congressional Black Caucus could not even applaud the fact the African-American unemployment is at an all-time low says everything you need to know about their true motives.
Forty-five-plus years of following politics has taught me that one speech doesn’t usually make a big difference. But there are exceptions. Reagan’s 1964 “Time for Choosing” changed the arc of a half century of history. His Brandenburg Gate speech led to the end of an empire. Obama’s “blue states, red states” led to his election as president.
Only time will tell if Trump’s first SOTU speech will have a significant, longer-term impact (though the ABCNews/YouGov poll showed that 75 percent of viewers, and 42 percent of Democrat viewers, approved of the speech).
But as a keen political observer, I must admit that it kind of has the feel of a memorable speech. And I say this as someone who came to the Trump Train a bit late and still find myself cringing a little when he goes off script. He has his strengths and weaknesses like us all, but you cannot deny that he is a force of nature.
One final thought: Trump had the look and vitality of a man 20 years younger than he is. But Bernie Sanders, Pelosi, and even Schumer looked as old and decrepit as Norman Bates’ mother in the climactic scene of “Psycho.”
Mark Sensmeier is chairperson of the Yavapai County Republican Party.