TRUMP’S STATE OF THE UNION EXPLAINED TO THE DUTCH
Below the front page of my newspaper yesterday evening. It might appear strange that Dutch media would pay so much attention to a yearly and mostly rather ceremonial event in American politics. Are the Dutch that much interested in it? The answer is short: no, they aren’t. But note the first header of the article, right below the picture (which tells a whole story on its own) in bright red letters. Over the course of the past year Guus Valk has started writing almost daily columns from Washington, which are midway between straight-forward reports and op-eds, analyzing the shenanigans of American President Donald Trump and the Republican party which he represents. It is very clear to many Dutch that whatever Trump and the GOP get up to in (one of) the most powerful countries in the world it will have great repercussions for the rest of that world. So reading about Donald Trump is of great interest to many Dutch, who in general have always shown an interest in what is happening in the rest of the world. And most of the time it makes for bewildering and hilarious reading ; so yes, that too.
State of the Union shows unprecedented division
Trumps tone was unctuous and patriotic. But his message was as always ‘America First’.
In this article, Valk again gives more of an analysis of Trump’s State of the Union than a report on the contents, places the speech within the context of the current American political climate and picks up on certain passages which are of interest to his Dutch readers. The headlines make it clear: Valk wasn’t very much impressed, neither by Trump’s mild tone when reading the script, nor by its contents, and hints at the possible writers of the speech with his use of “unctuous” in the sub header. The White House had indicated beforehand that Donald Trump would use his first official State of the Union to unite America after a year of extreme polarization, but Valk wasn’t seeing any of it.
He continues with a description of how both parties in Congress reacted to Trump’s “unifying words”
In the Chamber of the House of Representatives, where Trump made his speech, it was visible how divided the political climate is. The Republican Congressmen, to left of Trump, have abandoned their aversion to Trump. They stood up as one man again and again to applaud the president. For the first time in the history of the State of the Union, there was prolonged scanting of: ‘USA! USA! USA!’ (emphasis mine)
The Democrats sat to the right of Trump: looking away, playing with their phone, disapprovingly shaking their heads. Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House, had instructed her group not to interrupt Trump’s speech. But the hissing , growling an booing became increasingly loud especially when Trump spoke about immigration.
Valk then goes on to explain Trump’s need to reconcile both parties on ‘Dreamers’ to avoid a new closure of the government on February 8 but with the strict conditions he linked to the deal and the way he put it, it seems Trump has blown his chance:
At least as important was rhetoric, which was reminiscent of the way he depicted immigrants as criminals during his campaign. ‘For decades, open borders have ensured that drugs and gangs flew into our most vulnerable communities.‘ He also said, ‘Americans are dreamers too.’ (emphasis mine)
By summing up all the conservative results he achieved in the past year, Trump was the president as Republicans wanted him: An ordinary Republican president
No tweets, no Russia research, no war against the intelligence services and the FBI. That explained the dozens of standing ovations.
But Valk notes that Trump came up with remarkably few plans, even though a State of the Union is meant to do so. Even now, in a president’s best-prepared speech, Trump remained close to the alarmist tone that made him great, but he couldn’t deliver new plans and new inspiration to a Republican Party which is heading for a possible big defeat in the midterm elections in November.
Valk then ends with a remarkable observation:
Trump said the most interesting and most polarizing words just before he left the room. The speech was over, Trump walked to the exit, shaking hands. A Republican Congressman, Jeff Duncan, accosted him and said, ‘Just release the memo.’ A TV camera recorded the conversation.
Duncan was referring to a memo that here that has an explosive status in Washington. A Republican, Devin Nunes, is said to demonstrate in that memo that the FBI is biased against Trump. The Republicans want to release the memo, but that will almost certainly lead to a total escalation of the conflict between Trump and the FBI, and that between Democrats and Republicans. It will also endanger Robert Mueller’s Russia research.
The person who now has to decide on releasing the note is Trump himself. He has received the document and must now make a decision. He already anticipated on that to Congressman Duncan. He said, ‘Do not worry, hundred percent.’ When he was off-script, Trump showed what his conciliatory tone was worth this evening.
Guus Valk obviously wasn’t fooled by Trump’s State of the Union, to him it was just another one of this showman’s many campaign speeches and I think many Dutch will agree with him and can’t wait for the next chapter to unfold. “New Republican Weapon: Memo” is the headline of today’s article on Trump, or rather in the parallel series : RUSSIA INVESTIGATION US
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