President Trump's State of the Union address "showed this president growing in this job," an approving House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after Trump's address to Congress Tuesday night. Democrats, however, said Trump's second SOTU address followed a now-familiar pattern: Soaring calls for bipartisanship coupled with digs at Democrats and an unyielding stance on major issues. "We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution—and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good," he said. Some key takeaways:
- "Harsh lecture" on immigration. After saying Americans hoped "we would govern not as two parties but one nation," Trump returned to the divisive issue of border security, delivering what the Wall Street Journal calls a "notably harsh lecture on the evils of illegal immigration." He did not mention any deal involving legal status for Dreamers and did not, as some had expected, declare a national emergency in order to build a border wall, though he promised: "I will get it built."
- Possible areas of compromise. Trump highlighted two areas of possible compromise, calling for renewed efforts to fix "crumbling infrastructure" and to do something about prescription drug prices, the Washington Post reports. "It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place," he said. "This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it."
- An appeal to the base. The president gave his conservative Christian base something to cheer about with a call to limit late-term abortions, the AP reports. "These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world," he said.
- No more "endless wars." Trump spoke of peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan and defended his decision to pull US troops from Syria, the Guardian reports. "As a candidate for president, I pledged a new approach," he said. "Great nations do not fight endless wars."
- 2020 preview. In what the Guardian sees as a preview of 2020 election themes, Trump said Americans were "alarmed" by talk of socialism. "Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country," he said. He also warned that "ridiculous partisan investigations" could hurt America's prosperity.
- Good behavior.There was plenty of sighing and eye-rolling among Democrats during some of Trump's more controversial remarks, but no heckling, the AP reports. Lawmakers from both parties sang "Happy Birthday" to an 82-year-old man who survived both the Holocaust and last year's mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. In another light moment, newly elected female House Democrats, dressed in white to honor suffragettes, stood up and cheered when Trump spoke of having created jobs for women. "You weren't supposed to do that," the president said.
- Democrats were not impressed. Democrats slammed the address as very far from bipartisan, Politico reports. "I heard no unity tonight. Even the issues on which I think there should be a bipartisan basis, taking on the high cost of drugs, doing a significant investment in infrastructure, we heard no details and no plan," said Oregon's Sen. Jeff Merkley. "We heard the same empty campaign style rhetoric we've heard before." Hawaii's Sen. Mazie Hirono simply said: "WTF."
- Neither was Ann Coulter. Coulter, who has recently stepped up her criticism of Trump, slammed the "Oprah-like" speech in numerous scathing tweets, Mediaite reports."This was the lamest, sappiest, most intentionally tear-jerking SOTU ever," she tweeted. "Please fire your speechwriter." She also slammed Trump for not devoting enough time to the border wall, saying he "had better be breaking ground tomorrow."
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