Since I was asleep moments after 9 p.m. last night, I missed all the talk. According to press reports, Trump went on and on until after 10:30 p.m. Here’s some reactions.
All things considered, for Trump, this struck me as a fairly anodyne speech. It was fairly long for a State of the Union address. Trump hit his key bloodthirsty points, portraying undocumented immigrants as a tide of murderers threatening the country. He bragged on his supposed accomplishments – some real, most pretended. But overall, it tended to emphasize national unity, regardless of how empty that charge may be coming from what is certainly the most intentionally divisive President in modern American history. He even had some genuinely touching moments, such as the stories at the end of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, with US soldiers who were the liberators and inmates who were there that day.
It was a rather sedate speech for Trump. But in so many ways its themes were unmoored from his actual presidency which has been built on defiance and confrontation.
Trump does not have any big ideas or grand transformative vision. His administration is essentially a three-legged stool. On the first leg, the slow but steady improvement in economic conditions that happened during Barack Obama’s final six years in office has continued through Trump’s first two. On the second leg, he’s turned over essentially every government agency to business interests who enjoy lax regulation and thus ensure he and his party remain well-funded. On the third, he has anti-immigrant demagoguery to blame for every problem under the sun.
There are no real ideas here to tackle the escalating costs of health care, higher education, housing, and child care. No interest in economic inequality, no real thought about foreign policy, and basically no real energy or sense of purpose. Trump’s key idea was that to maintain peace and prosperity, Congress needs to abdicate its oversight responsibilities and let him be as corrupt as he wants. That’s all he’s left with — a vague hope that the economy holds up and nobody catches him with his hand in the cookie jar. But the investigations are going to happen, and they’re going to be fascinating.
Trump himself, meanwhile, is just dull now.
Based on these and other reactions, including this (“BOR-ing!”) from Jennifer Rubin, supposedly a conservative, it sounds like Trump is just tired of the whole shtick and is subconsciously looking for a way to get out, gracefully or otherwise. So now what? Not run in 2020? Let the Mueller investigation pile up and bury him? Just quit and retreat to Mar-a-Lago?
None of those would be a surprise, and frankly, I don’t care how he goes as long as he goes.