Democrats had numerous responses to President Trump’s State of the Union speech – in the chamber, on television and on social media. The first response was evident in the Chamber.
Silence of the clans
It is a long tradition for those who disagree or are displeased by specific words of the President to withhold their applause and refuse to rise alongside the members of the President’s party – who will applaud, stand, stomp and cheer at almost every statement.
In underscoring their allegiance to the anti-Trump resistance movement, Democrats took passive-aggressive political behavior to a new high. Their premeditated protestations were symbolically on display by the lady legislators’ all black fashion choice. First Lady Melania’s decision to wear all white seemed more of a political than a style statement. Members of the Black Caucus demonstrated their tribal opposition to Trump by wearing various adornments of African tradition.
Inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globe obituary to Recy Taylor, many black and white Democrats wore remembrance pins. Taylor was a black woman who was brutally gang raped by six white boys in Alabama in 1919. But the rape was only part of the story. Her courage in fighting back was notable. The outrage, however, results from the fact that none of her attackers were ever arrested, never prosecuted and never punished – even as they braggingly admitted to the crime. It was another tragic example of southern justice in the racist south in the early 1900s. What is so ironic in the Democrats symbolic protest is that the lack of justice was the result of solid Democrat control of the south – especially the justice system. The story of Recy Taylor was sadly not unique.
Throughout the speech the juxtaposition of standing and applauding Republicans against the dour stoicism of the Democrats left the impression that the two parties were somehow not attending the same event. This behavior may have been more extreme this year since Democrats are under pressure from their base to resist all things Trump at all cost – and to not “normalize” him by conceding some positive points.
Would-be (again) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was — as often captured on camera — both a leader and the personification of the resistance. Her grimaces and habitually bulging her cheeks with her tongue were either manifestations of displeasure or a toothache.
Strangely, if one is to assume that their posterior planted silence was an expression of displeasure or disagreement, one must conclude that the Democrats were displeased with honoring the flag, securing the border, supporting the military, defending religious freedom, paying bonuses to millions of workers, lowering black unemployment, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and defeating ISIS – among other seemingly worthy goals. They seemed displeased with Trump’s moving the United States embassy to Jerusalem even though Congress overwhelmingly voted to authorize such a move several years ago.
Joseph Kennedy III emerges from the political shadows
The official response to the speech was given to Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, the latest family member from America’s largest political dynasty. Those who follow my commentaries will recall that I had predicted his rise from political obscurity to public prominence in a previous commentary.
In that commentary, I wrote, “If Obama could send a tingle up the leg of Chris Matthews, this young congressman should have the Kennedy-loving MSNBC personality wetting himself.” I cannot say that Matthews did since he was sitting behind the news desk, but I can confirm that Matthews was VERY excited at the prospect of the latest Kennedy taking leadership in the Democratic Party.
I also wrote that “the young Kennedy shows that he has also developed the family trait of grandiose rhetoric devoid of substance – selling the sizzle when there is no beef.” That was fully on display in his so-called response remarks.
In realty, Kennedy did not present a response to President Trump’s speech, but rather took advantage of the opportunity to present himself to the American people for future reference. It was a speech filled with well-delivered platitudes presented before an audience of cheerleaders. There was nothing in his remarks that would have indicated that he had even listened to the State of the Union speech. In many instances, his language appeared to be aligned with Trump’s.
This was a speech of Kennedy, by Kennedy and for Kennedy. It was clear that at least one faction of the Democratic Party was hoping Kennedy’s “my generation” references would be a sort of political obituary for the current septuagenarian class of presidential candidates.
As was preordained, the Kennedy style over substance speech was greeted by the liberal press with gushing praise and assurances of his bright future as a leader in the Democratic Party. And yet, the presentation seemed to be anachronistic. It was as if Kennedy was the product of central casting hired to read from an old script – which he did with a bit of overacting.
Regardless of the vacuousness of Kennedy’s remarks, President Trump could benefit from emulating some of the Kennedy rhetorical style – or better yet, study Ronald Reagan.
The unofficial four
The philosophic and political fractures in the Democratic Party resulted in four unofficial rebuttals. Contrary to Kennedy’s substance-challenged non-rebuttal, socialist Democrat Senator (and presidential hopeful) Bernie Sanders used social media to deliver a point-by-point rebuttal to the President which had all the echoes of his repetitious campaign rhetoric. Occasionally rational Congresswoman Maxine Waters was provided time on Black Entertainment Television (BET) to push for a presidential impeachment – implying she possessed more proof of crimes than has ever been provided by a truly responsible person. If Waters is playing with a full deck, they all appear to be race cards.
A former member of Congress, Donna Edwards, provided a response on behalf of the Working Families Party – whatever that obscure political entity might be. Finally, there was a Spanish-language response presented by Elizabeth Guzman, a delegate in the Maryland lower house. I cannot comment on the final two since I could not find one and the other I would not be able to understand if I did find her remarks on line. Regardless, it is difficult to believe that these two would have offered up anything dramatically different or more informative than the previously mentioned three.
My commentary on the State of the Union speech, itself, is contained in a second commentary in today’s edition of the Punching Bag Post.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.