As State of the Union speeches go they are usually yawners. This one, with few exceptions, was a barn burner.
If you missed it, don't worry; you will see its most dramatic moments replayed over and over in Republican 2020 campaign ads. Trump deftly used this address to expose the Democrats' soft underbelly of open borders, devoid of bipartisanship and reason.
The president set the tone when he invited Democrats to "Choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction." Clearly the Democrats, with few exceptions, decided on, gridlock, resistance, vengeance and destruction.
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Democratic women, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, did themselves no favor by wearing white, which they said was to express solidarity with working women around the country. They want us to believe the falsehood that the wage gap is the result of discrimination, rather than a reflection of the reasonable choices women make, and that we need these congresswomen to save us. These militants stood out like sore thumbs as they scowled and sat on their hands and fannies when the president made his case for border security and hailed the economic boon the country now is experiencing.
To back up his claim, Trump ticked off the gains made in the last 24 months, which have made our economy "the envy of the world." This included 5.3 million new jobs and, more importantly, 600,000 new manufacturing jobs. (Bean counters disagree on the exact numbers, but results, either way, are impressive.)
With one notable exception (Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema who won a narrow election in a divided state), Democrats remained seated as he announced that wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades and growing for blue collar workers. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century: African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American and people with disabilities unemployment figures have reached their lowest levels ever recorded.
Nor were these women moved when Trump made the case that "tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate – it is cruel." They looked disgusted as he pointed out that "human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery." No one in either party can deny that one in three of these women are raped on this dangerous journey before they get here, enticed by our loose border enforcement.
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Hours before the speech, the need for border security was underscored when Homeland Security announced that a new caravan of about 2,000 migrants had arrived on the U.S.-Mexico border south of Texas.
There was no indication that these white-clad Democratic legislators or their male counterparts will support Trump's balanced approach to the problem of illegal immigration reform. This includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry. Clearly, they are not interested even though, as the president pointed out, "most of the people in this room voted for a wall – but the proper wall never got built."
These intransigent Democrats, particularly those who were recently elected posing as centrists, will have to defend those images of their stone faces or smirks as Trump urged them to join him and solve this pressing problem once and for all.
However, Trump's biggest triumph of the night was forcing Democrats to take a socialism test as Republicans watched in disbelief. While most of the leaders in the Democratic Party have been leading us down this road for decades, and some hard-core socialists already have announced their bid to run for president, Trump forced each of them to go on record when he said, "Here in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."
At that point some Democrats nervously rose from their seats. Other sat and glared. A picture is worth a thousand words, and Trump and his fellow Republicans now have plenty of these pictures for show-and-tell as the run-up to the 2020 election has begun.