Joe Henderson: State of the Union? Conflicted, combative, and Robert Mueller

state of the union 2019

What shall we, the people, remember from the State of the Union message delivered by President Donald Trump?

The best moment came when Trump paid homage to Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor who also escaped the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

When Trump mentioned that Samet turned 81 Tuesday, spontaneous singing of happy birthday broke out in the great hall.

There was a nice shout-out to astronaut Buzz Aldren.

The President noted that 58 percent of created jobs last year went to women. He apparently forgot that many of the newly elected representatives in Congress are women and Democrats. They began to wildly cheer.

But, let’s be honest. There was no “history has its eyes on you” moment, like the time Abraham Lincoln told Congress, “In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free.”

The most notable eyes in President Trump’s speech belonged to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They were rolling at many of his points, especially when he warned, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

That brought memories of a memorable SOTU line from Richard Nixon in 1974: “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough.”

A little more than six months later, Nixon resigned in disgrace.

What was past could be prologue. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller will continue his investigation into Trump’s campaign, and the blustering from the Oval Office won’t change that. And repeated calls for unity that Trump has made will continue to be ignored by Democrats.

There is a simple reason why.

In the President’s world, “unity” means giving him what he wants. The self-styled master deal-maker’s idea of compromise is that he gets everything the other side gets nothing.

That’s not how the government is supposed to work.

Democrats have signaled willingness to cooperate on tighter security at the southern border, but that isn’t good enough for right-wing pundits like Ann Coulter. She won’t accept anything but a monstrous concrete wall and has let Trump know he had better not either.

Of course, she ripped him anyway.

In a tweet, which apparently is how we communicate these days, she said, “This was the lamest, sappiest, most intentionally tear-jerking SOTU ever. Please fire your speechwriter.”

She later called it “Oprah, sappy stuff.”

And when Trump said America will never be a socialist country, Coulter shot back, “WRONG! If you don’t build a wall & deport illegals, we’ll be a socialist country in about 5 years.”

As expected, he announced a push to eradicate the transmission of HIV/AIDS, and that potentially is good news for Florida. Our state has one of the highest rates of HIV in the country.

Coulter even ridiculed that.

“So Trump is AGAINST childhood cancer, AIDS and the Holocaust. Glad I tuned in to hear that,” she tweeted.

Why am I quoting Ann Coulter so much?

People like her helped elect Trump, and they will turn on him unless he does everything they demand.

If he does that though, his approval by the rest of America will erode even more. Even some Republicans in Congress are speaking out against his antics. And Mueller is methodically going about his business.

To paraphrase a preacher I once heard, he will be done when he is through.

And that, folks, is the real state of the union.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


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