When you think of President Donald Trump, unity doesn’t immediately come to mind, given his dubious track record over the last two years. Yet, there he was Tuesday night in the halls of Congress delivering a message of bipartisanship in his State of the Union address.
Was he sincere? Maybe. Should we be encouraged? Probably not.
First, his appeal for unity sounded more than a little disingenuous coming just a few days after the disastrous 34-day impasse over the partial government shutdown ended with no genuine compromises and fears of another shutdown this month.
Second, the inspiring words and recent events canceled each other out. “As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans,” Trump said at the outset. Seriously? Was Trump referring to separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border? Or attempts to set back women’s reproductive rights 50 years?
For all the happy talk about bipartisanship and unity, Trump’s speech sounded like little more than a warmup for his 2020 presidential re-election campaign. He got good mileage out of a few optimistic values, such as investing in the eradication of HIV by 2030, but he revealed no indication that he would push hard for them.
Trump virtually omitted national issues of local interest, such as infrastructure — roads and bridges, water supply and broadband — despite running on it as an important platform in his 2016 presidential bid. Listeners hoping for a kinder, gentler Donald in 2019 should be disappointed. The president gets an E for effort and a D for deception. Despite the rhetoric, he’s the same Trump he used to be.