On Tuesday, Jan. 30, President Donald Trump gave the annual State of the Union address to Congress and the American people.
The speech focused on the accomplishments of Trump’s first year in office, as well as unifying the country behind policy and patriotism in the wake of tragedy, particularly natural disasters like the California fires and the Houston floods.
In addition, the president also emphasized the improving U.S. economy and successes in the fight against ISIS before outlining his four-step immigration plan and five-step opioid crisis solution.
In the aftermath, Trump and administration members emphasized the optimism and unification expressed in the speech.
.@SecNielsen's statement on @POTUS #SOTU ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/EBULPVVX0r
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) January 31, 2018
Americans heard an optimistic & unifying speech from @realDonaldTrump. There is much to be optimistic about..for the first time in 45 years, the United States is positioned to achieve energy independence, & it will happen under @POTUS leadership. #SOTU #USA #ENERGY
— Rick Perry (@SecretaryPerry) January 31, 2018
.@RealDonaldTrump touched every base: economic, military, and diplomatic. Made the case for smart & compassionate immigration. #SOTU
— Sec. Wilbur Ross (@SecretaryRoss) January 31, 2018
Left-leaning politicians and pundits, though, did not take the bipartisan bait.
“The conciliatory tone of Trump’s first State of the Union address was sharply at odds with the combative manner in which he has conducted his presidency,” wrote Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker for the Washington Post.
They sharply criticized the president’s attempt to reconcile with the Democrats while also clearly pushing GOP policy objectives that liberal Democrats are at odds with.
“Republicans enjoy total dominance in Washington … But the party has only one major legislative accomplishment, a new tax law, to show for its first year in full control,” Tumulty and Rucker wrote.
“Trump struggles for the unifying, uplifting tone that presidents tend to favor in State of the Union addresses. It’s simply not a mode that suits him well,” wrote The Atlantic’s David Graham in a piece tearing apart the president’s perceived accomplishments.
Trump “conjure[d] his own reality” in the State of the Union, completely “ignoring the Russia probe altogether.”
The liberal media was also mostly critical of the content in the speech, or lack thereof.
“President Trump carefully avoided any mention of the LGBTQ community,” wrote John Riley for Metro Weekly.
Riley’s op-ed continued by listing the other minorities Trump’s State of the Union failed to mention, including the rights of women, those with disabilities, civil liberties and human rights.
While some prominent members in the religious community commended Trump’s support of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Iranian autonomy, many were critical of his seemingly hypocritical advocation of religious freedom in the speech.
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, told the Times of Israel that Trump “clearly doesn’t know what the wods ‘religious liberty’ mean if he thinks he’s taken historic action to protect it.”
One of Trump’s more loaded comments — “Americans are dreamers too” — also met intense media scrutiny.
“The appropriation of the term ‘dreamers’ to include all Americans seemed reminiscent of attempts a few years ago to draw attention away from the cause of the Black Lives Matter movement,” wrote CBS’ Keith Boag, noting the terminology will probably cause more quarreling than compromise.
The New Yorker’s Amy Sorkin noted that Trump’s State of the Union address seemed fearful and insecure of his own favorability and accomplishments as presidents.
She warned that this insecurity can manifest into a need to reinforce the military and that this “demand for safety can turn into a call for extremism.”
Interestingly enough, the more moderate and conservative response to the State of the Union was not that of praising the president’s on-script speech, but rather mocking the Democrats’ response.
“The Democrats’ behavior at the State of the Union was embarrassing.” wrote The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.
While she believed that Trump’s rhetoric was more divisive than unifying, she criticized Democrats, leftist protests and media outrage during and following the speech.
NBC News’ Charlie Kirk praised the president’s accomplishments and condemned what he felt was childish leftist behavior, claiming that their many critical responses showed that Democrats were unnecessarily obstructionist and care more about politics than the people.
“There is no question that our nation is far better off today than it was in 2016, or that these accomplishments are a result of the leadership and policies of President Trump,” Kirk wrote.
“And yet, the Democrats last night could hardly bring themselves to acknowledge the benefits that Trump’s administration has provided American families.”
The news media is “abusively biased” against Trump and Democrats will not give him credit for any success or legislative accomplishment, “something never seen in American history,” said Fox News pundit Sean Hannity.
Hannity, along with these other conservative thinkers in the media and civilians across the country, consistently believe that the mainstream media at large is against their interests.
It’s fascinating how a speech intended to unify the public with patriotic rhetoric and devised to get the media and the public on the same side seemed to just highlight our cultural and partisan divisions even more vividly than before.