No more Mr. Mean Guy

The coun­try liked what it heard, even if the lib­eral crit­ics did not

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Pres­i­dent Trump’s State of the Union speech was per­haps the best speech of his pres­i­dency and one of the best State of the Union speeches of any pres­i­dent of the mod­ern era. The fi­nal 10 min­utes brought tears to the eyes of ev­ery­one, Re­pub­li­can and some­times Demo­crat, black and white, who love Amer­ica for the virtues and sac­ri­fices of the or­di­nary Amer­i­cans who built “the shin­ing city on the hill” and are rightly proud of their work.

The naysay­ers, mostly of the Democrats and some nit­pick­ers on the right, were surely rat­tled by the pub­lic-opin­ion polls that demon­strated that an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans liked what they heard — 78 per­cent in a CBS News poll, and 59 per­cent even in a poll for CNN, which al­most never has an en­cour­ag­ing word.

For the pres­i­dent, the wide and ap­pre­cia­tive acceptance of his speech demon­strates how the softer, gen­tler tone, with­out di­lut­ing his mes­sage, usu­ally works best. We hope to hear it again. He might be sur­prised by how it en­hances his pow­ers of per­sua­sion.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Demo­cratic mi­nor­ity leader, sat through the speech with a per­ma­nent smirk on his face. The pub­lic’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the speech, as re­vealed in the morn­ing-af­ter pub­lic-opin­ion polls, wiped some of that smirk away.

Nancy Pelosi, who has set­tled com­fort­ably in her self-ap­pointed role of the shrill wicked witch of the West, for once was al­most gra­cious, and of­fered nei­ther smirk nor sneer, and ac­tu­ally smiled pret­tily for the pres­i­dent. She leaped to her feet with the rank of the ladies of the left, clad in the vir­ginal white sug­ges­tive of their wed­dings in days of yore, to ap­plaud with the Repub­li­cans and other con­ser­va­tives when Mr. Trump of­fered trib­ute to the fe­male as­cen­dancy to con­gres­sional lead­er­ship.

Sev­eral of Mr. Trump’s con­ser­va­tive crit­ics were dis­ap­pointed that he didn’t re­peat his in­vec­tive against the lib­er­als, the left and “the pro­gres­sives,” but that was not nec­es­sary on a night of pres­i­den­tial out­reach. Ev­ery­one knows that Repub­li­cans and Democrats, like dogs and cats, don’t par­tic­u­larly like each other. It was nice to rec­og­nize that we can all be po­lite and even friendly on oc­ca­sion.

Sen. Bernie San­ders, try­ing to get up for an­other big run for the White House that he is likely to see only as a vis­i­tor, re­buked the pres­i­dent for not re­peat­ing the rit­ual warn­ing of a com­ing change in the weather (the cap­i­tal al­ready knew about that, hav­ing basked dur­ing the af­ter­noon in a 73-de­gree aber­ra­tion for Fe­bru­ary). Some con­ser­va­tives were un­happy as well for what the pres­i­dent didn’t say about his fail­ure, as The Wall Street Jour­nal put it, to “re­frame” the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate:

“He faces an­other gov­ern­ment shut­down dead­line at the end of next week over fund­ing for [a re­strain­ing wall] on the bor­der. Yet he merely re­peated his fa­mil­iar pa­rade of hor­ri­bles about the bor­der, the car­a­vans mov­ing north, and il­le­gal im­mi­grants who com­mit crimes. He is preach­ing to the con­verted and per­suad­ing no one else.”

Well, per­haps. But an at­tempt to per­suade must go on if we are to re­store and pre­serve an or­derly re­cep­tion of new im­mi­grants. Re­spect­ing bor­ders is not an act of big­otry. Cer­tain busi­ness in­ter­ests would make com­mon cause with the open­bor­ders left so as to im­port cheap and eas­ily abused la­bor, the busi­ness in­ter­ests for quick profit and the left for im­ported votes in a Congress they think is mov­ing in­ex­orably left­ward.

Mr. Trump held out a hand to the Democrats, of­fer­ing a bi­par­ti­san pri­or­ity for some of their most cher­ished goals, such as con­trol­ling drug prices, re­build­ing roads and in­fra­struc­ture and so­cial goals, such as fam­ily leave. But the gap be­tween the two par­ties has be­come a canyon. An­other gov­ern­ment shut­down would suit Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer be­cause they think it can be ex­ploited with the help of the big news­pa­pers and ca­ble-TV net­works ever on the scout for some­thing to yak about.

The “pro­gres­sives” heard the words in the pres­i­dent’s State of the Union, but dead ears can­not hear the mu­sic. The pres­i­dent gave it out on Tues­day night, loud, soft and clear. Amer­ica heard it and cheered, even if the cap­i­tal did not.

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