10 Thoughts on President Trump’s State of the Union Address

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President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address earned mixed reviews in polls. A CBS poll found 75 percent of those who watched it approved, while a CNN poll found the speech had the lowest overall positive rating for any SOTU address in the past 20 years. Bottom line: Both Trump supporters and haters are unlikely to have changed their views after watching the address. Here’s a collection of views on what President Trump got right and wrong in his moment in the spotlight.

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address is unlikely to have swayed either his supporters or detractors. Credit: White House/Shealah Craighead

10. “Like your five-year-old nephew who gets a gold star for showing up to preschool, and a trophy just for making it to the soccer field, Donald Trump earned brownie points just for being able to read a teleprompter without making a fool of himself. It’s those low expectations that earn accolades time and time again that Trump ‘looked presidential’ just by actually stringing multiple sentences together at the same time — which, granted, has indeed become a feat for this chief executive.”

Michael Schneider, Indiewire


9. “How do you not clap for African American unemployment reaching record lows? Dems look put out about it.”

— Vanessa Brown Calder, a policy analyst with the conservative Cato Institute. When President Trump mentioned that the African American unemployment rate had hit a record low, Black Congressional Caucus members sat motionless.


8. “He should have said, ‘Thank you, President Obama,’ because truly what happened is that it was because of the priorities of the previous administration.”

— Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), explaining to CNN the lack of the enthusiasm from the Black Congressional Caucus during the aforementioned moment.


7. “You would think coming out of this that every undocumented alien is actually a member of MS-13. That is not reflective of the overall immigrant community and I think that was disgusting that he continued to make reference to them as if every immigrant was a member of the gang.”

— Rep. Joe Crowley (D.-N.Y.)


6. “We’re coming out of this economic funk that we were in throughout the Obama years and the president was right to talk about it and to take some credit for the direction America is heading in.”

— Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)


5. “This speech represents the presidential performance that Trump observers have been waiting for — brilliant mix of numbers and stories, humility and aggressiveness, traditional conservatism and political populism. Only one word qualifies: Wow.”

Pollster Frank Luntz, tweeting during the address. Luntz later tweeted his apology for sparring with Trump in the past, noting, “Tonight, I owe Donald Trump an apology. Tonight, I was moved and inspired. Tonight, I have hope and faith in America again.”


4. “President Trump’s State of the Union speech tonight was subdued, emotional, Trumpy in some identifiable ways (like his focus on gang violence and skills-based immigration restrictions), but also normal: a speech that in tone could have been given by a conventional politician. That doesn’t excuse or erase the ways in which Trump is not a normal president … Many Republicans, like me, who are not comfortable with Trump would have been a lot easier to convert if the Trump of tonight’s speech was the every day Trump.”

— Conservative pundit Dan McLaughlin, in NationalReview.com


3. “Amazing, inspirational speech @realDonaldTrump To the haters in the media, and those that wanted him to fail, nobody cares what you have to say. America is back. Thank God.”

— Fox News host Sean Hannity


2. “How can a president of the United States give a State of the Union speech and not mention climate change? No, Mr. Trump, climate change is not a “hoax.” It is a reality which is causing devastating harm all over our country and all over the world and you are dead wrong when you appoint administrators at the EPA and other agencies who are trying to decimate environmental protection rules, and slow down the transition to sustainable energy.”

— Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in his official response to Trump’s speech.


1. “After boasting for decades about his ability to present himself however the situation warrants, Trump has developed three markedly different roles over the past year: Twitter Trump is brash, blunt and biting. Everyday President Trump is more reserved but savors his ability to blow up the daily rituals of Washington with rhetorical bombs. And Special Occasion Trump reads stiffly from the teleprompter, tones down his language and comes closest to sounding traditionally presidential.”

— Marc Fisher, Washington Post


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