Hearing Donald Trump talk up bipartisanship is like listening to a lecture by Hannibal Lecter on veganism. Unsurprising as cold weather in winter, he trashed Democrats, per usual, at a lunch with news anchors before the speech. Bipartisanship died before the speech was birthed. (No, I won’t even begin to unpack the lies, implicit and explicit, he produced when addressing late-term abortion. Nor the cynical appeal to his ready-for-outrage base, for whom such lies are coin of the realm.)
Seriously, how many spit-takes occurred around the country, around the world, when the word “bipartisanship” passed his lips? The lips of the guy who’s consistently claimed Democrats want open borders, care more about criminals than law-abiding citizens. The guy who calls for locking up former opponents and considers news reporters enemies of the people.
After removing all knowledgeable people from the HIV/AIDS task force established by President Barack Obama, Trump now calls for Congress to appropriate money to fight it. (Important insight: he used to brag about making his girlfriends get tested.)
Economic miracle, he called it, and indeed it is, for CEOs, shareholders and the millionaire recipients of his tax cuts. For those in the middle class expecting their “average $4,000” in tax cuts: Fooled ya! For those concerned about trillion-dollar deficits: You, too.
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution,” alliterated the personification of each of those. Who’s done everything possible to bring pain to immigrants, LGBT people, and non-Christians (of which, ironically, he is one.)
“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” he said. Right. Legislation and investigations are as incompatible as war and peace. Anyone buy that? Was it true during the endless investigations of Hillary Clinton? If so, was it because R’s had no spare time to legislate, or because they insisted on blocking President Barack Obama no matter what?
Watching Trump read words arranged in complete sentences is like watching a toddler trying to fit blocks into one of those fit-the-shapes-into-one-of those-shape-things.
When confronted with proof of Trump’s endless string of lies, his supporters either deny that he lies, or ask us to ignore his words and focus on what he does. OK, let’s. Let’s see what happens with his change of heart on AIDS. Let’s see how much drug prices drop (to date, on his watch, they’ve dropped about a half of 1 percent.) Mainly, though, let’s see how he uses his office to model cooperation, high-minded politics, and to discourage hate for his usual targets. Let’s see how he addresses those trillion-dollar deficits and missing middle class tax refunds; whether he reverses his orders that have increased pollution, allowed poisons in food, and have, for the first time in years, caused America’s carbon emissions to rise.
Let’s see what he does about climate change, continued denial of which denotes mulish idiocy, and mention of which, like his bullying shutdown, received none of his speechwriters’ attention. And, since he’s suddenly the very model of a modern compromiser, let’s see if he’s willing to buck the frothing of his base by offering permanent resolution of DACA and TPS in exchange for his unnecessary wall. Let’s see if he’s willing to promise that he’ll accept his $5.7 billion for it, and not a penny more, ever.
All SOTU speeches aspire to soaring rhetoric. Some presidents have the chops to deliver them soaringly, too. Coming from Trump, who, when not stumbling through a TelePrompter, descends into mendacious incoherence, there’s a certain loss of luster. But I’m a generous guy. Sunning, as I am at the moment, in Hawaii, accompanied by my sweet, adorable, innocent, and as-yet unpolluted grandchildren, I’ll accept Trump’s word that he’s had his recently referred-to “Come to Jefferson” moment. And, for the sake of those grandchildren and everyone else’s, too, including the ones of those who unfailingly attack me as a commie blinded by baseless hate of Trump, I’ll afford him the benefit of my doubt, until such time as he proves he’s the same fomenter of fear and hate and denialism he was before Tuesday night.
That’s all I can muster, pounded out reluctantly, in the warmth of my surroundings. Grandpa’s presence is required to accompany the kids to the beach. By the time this is printed, I’ll be back among you, hoping the pipes ain’t froze, trying to retain the mellow memories of happy disconnect.
Email Sid Schwab at firstname.lastname@example.org.