Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address was predictably a show of bravado, fallacy, bipartisanship, and partisanship all at the same time. Trump touted what he saw as his major accomplishments in his first year as president.
Although his language was toned down — and with a sense of unity — compared to his daily Twitter proclamations, he also somehow managed to be deeply offensive at times during the speech, according to some critics.
POLITICO Magazine feature writer and reporter Tim Alberta joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to talk about his reaction to the State of the Union address. The speech, which he called “carefully and tightly crafted,” was not surprising to him.
“There was something for everyone,” he says. “It was a choose-your-own-adventure type of night.”
Alberta also notes the refusal of Democrats to stand and applaud parts of Trump speech that aligned with their own beliefs. He says this is indicative of the environment in Washington.
“It was strange to see Democrats staying seated but it speaks to the hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington.”
Shikha Dalmia, senior analyst at the Reason Foundation and columnist with The Week, also joins Detroit Today to express her displeasure with the president’s tone regarding immigration, which contained no mention of the accomplishments of immigrants. She says this represents a shift in the Republican Party.
“The distinction Republicans used to make between illegal and legal immigration are all gone. It is all open season against immigrants of all types. The GOP is now entirely the party of nativism as far as I can tell.”
Henderson also speaks with Evan McMullin, independent candidate for president in 2016 championed by the #NeverTrump movement, former CIA operations officer, and former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference.
He says the State of the Union was a mixed bag.
“I do think that the speech started off pretty well,” says McMullin.
But, he says, ”in the end, the president…amid that positivity, turned back towards signaling to white nationalists and nativists.”
“We have to learn to differentiate between economic success and the health of our institutions,” he continues. “Our economic prosperities come from our freedoms. And, in the long term, if we have a government that deprives the people of their most basic rights that heads down that nativist, xenophobic path…our economy will not continue to thrive.”
McMullin also talks about Trump’s recent fight with the FBI and his ongoing feud with the intelligence community, something Trump did not refer to during his speech Tuesday night. He addresses the recent departure of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, something McMullin says relates to a larger problem of trust in American institutions.
“I maintain that most people in our FBI, for example, and in the Department of Justice act in good faith and with integrity,” he says. ”And we can always make improvements. But what Trump is trying to do is zero in on mistakes that people may have made and weave them into tapestries of conspiracy theories and scams and use those to push people out of office or fire people.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.