Thoughts on the State of the Union

Come Heller high water …

∫ I am not calling Trump a fascist. I am not calling him a dictator (yet). I really am not. Not kidding. And I’m certainly not calling him an Italian. But I am saying his pauses, poses and expressions reminded me (a lifelong WWII buff) a bit of newsreels of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini speaking to the masses from a balcony. Especially that thing he kept doing where he’d pause after what he thought was clearly an incredibly clever thing to say then turn to his left (because that’s where the Republicans were), raise his chin and nod his approval of their approval. It was eerie.

∫ And speaking of the applause, we need a rule that says no applause until the president is done speaking. None. Not a clip. Not a clap. Not a hoorah, nor a boo. Not even the crinkling a throat lozenge wrapper. This one sentence (applause), another sentence (more applause) thing is really getting old.

And no standing either. It’s ridiculous.

∫ So is the constant introduction of heroes and victims. I get that these people deserve the attention. But it also feels in many cases that these people are simply being exploited, so there’s always an ick factor. Just once I’d like to see a president follow Franklin Roosevelt’s words of wisdom on public speaking: “Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” That puppy was an hour and 20 minutes. I wouldn’t want to listen to Lincoln for that long. The Gettysburg address was less than three minutes long. If you added modern day clapping, it still would have clocked in at under 43 minutes.

“Beautiful, clean coal”? Isn’t that like saying “Beautiful, clean sloppy Joe’s”? We know it’s not true. Even coal was probably offended at being called beautiful and clean. Maybe he was thinking of Stormy.

∫ Yes, that was a cheap shot.

∫ Speaking of which, hoo-wee, did you see Melania’s face? Yikes. He is in big, big trouble with her. Wow.

∫ Trump also said the war on American energy was over. Right. Exxon Mobil’s profits in 2016, the last Obama year, were nearly $8 billion. That’s some war.

∫ He, of course, didn’t mention Russia. But why? He’s the president. This is serious stuff. If he didn’t do it, he ought to be leading the charge against Russian interference. Even if he did secretly collude, tactically, you’d think he’d want to at least act outraged. Ignoring the problem tells me everything I need to know.

∫ My favorite thing is to watch the facial expressions of the minority party. I wonder if it’s all-natural or if they sneak lemons in.

∫ The biggest laugh was him — the Don Rickles of presidents — calling for unity and bipartisanship. Good one, Don. That’s like the Grinch pre-heart growth saying, “Can’t we all just get along and have a nice Christmas together?”

∫ Do we even need State of the Unions anymore? Yeah, I know it’s in the Constitution. But the Constitution doesn’t say the president has to do a long, self-congratulatory speech. It says he has to give Congress information. Which today it doesn’t need. An email would suffice.

∫ You know the only way I’d say a State of the Union address is warranted? If the president ever once said, “You know, folks, things are just not that great right now, OK?”

“The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. … In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free-honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just-a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.” — Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union, 1862.