Reviews

How did Trump’s big evening out go?

Greg Sargent at the Post says he lied a lot.

President Trump’s State of the Union speech is being widely described as an effort to move past the chaos, anger, polarization and divisiveness that have been unleashed by his first year in office.

Oh please. Don’t be ridiculous. If Trump wanted to move past the chaos, anger, polarization and divisiveness that he sprays all over us every day, he could just do that. He delivered a speech that Stephen Miller (no rose himself) wrote for him; it would be criminally credulous to treat anything conciliatory he said in it as meaningful.

The speech tried to “move past tumult,” proclaimed the front page of the New York Times. It was an “appeal to unity,” said the Times’s lead news story. His speech “attempted to suspend the polarizing realities of his presidency,” insisted CNN.

But this isn’t what Trump tried to do at all. Instead, Trump actually doubled down on pretty much every aspect of his presidency that large majorities of Americans have found so searingly polarizing and divisive. The real core of the speech was his effort to rhetorically recast the key elements of that approach as unifying and conciliatory without moving past them at all.

“I’m saying this in my best most politest voice: brown people who want to come here and eat all our ice cream are SCUM. Can we unify now?”

Trump’s speech had two major goals: First, to persuade working- and middle-class Americans that those [orthodox GOP] economic policies are good for them. Second, to reiterate his commitment to the most polarizing aspects of his approach in the eyes of the base voters who thrill to it while making conciliatory noises directed at the college-educated and suburban white swing voters who have been badly alienated by it — and who, as a result, may deliver control of at least one chamber of Congress to Democrats this year, hamstringing his presidency.

Pay no attention to the conciliatory noises behind the curtain. They mean nothing.

Trump didn’t back off his immigration agenda, or the toxic ideas and rhetoric undergirding it, in the slightest. He merely tried to repackage those things as conciliatory. Trump called for a deal protecting the “dreamers” that would, he said, give concessions to both sides. But he reiterated his demand for large cuts to legal immigration, even as he rehashed his ugliest demagoguery about undocumented immigrants by blaming fictional open borders for exaggerated levels of crime, hyping the MS-13 threat, and dissembling reprehensibly about the diversity visa lottery program and “chain migration.”

Let’s don’t waste any more time expecting a new improved Trump to jump out of a cake all of a sudden.

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