If a headline for the State Of the Union, SOTU, address was expected to be: "A Truculent Trump Traduces Democrats," it now could be "Trump Triumphs -- Credits American People for Year of Successes." The speech was a litany of success stories, economic and military illustrated by tales of valor, grit, hard work, forbearance in the face of tragedy, the actual individuals involved all present, and, when mentioned, asked to stand to be applauded. It was enormously upbeat with one sour note -- the Democrats looking surly, determined not to applaud, not even the universalities of Congress, certainly not the tax bill on which they caved. If truth be told, both sides have the same paymasters. The speech itself a magician's illusion, a glass not half empty or half full, but appearing full yet without content when turned over.
The Democrats' response talked of chaos, and the negatives they could muster without seeming to realize that if Trump had credited the American people for the year and its successes, the Democratic response was indirectly blaming the same people for the failures. It fell flat. Attention focused on the white drool collecting on both corners of the speaker's mouth, morphing Joe Kennedy III into a frothing-at-the-mouth, angry young man vandalizing the beautiful portrait painted by the American people and displayed by the President.
Does this mean Mr. Trump has been a good president? No, of course not. He is temperamentally unsuited to the job. In one year, the Union of Concerned Scientists have moved their doomsday clock twice: each time a half minute closer to midnight. It is now at two minutes to, the closest to doom since 1953. They cite increased danger from nuclear weapons, that is proliferation, increased expenditures, improved accuracy and thus greater usability of tactical nuclear weapons, the absence of arms control talks and a general instability. To that they add the calculated failure to combat climate change, a charge clearly leveled at the Trump administration.
Mr. Trump has also been lucky. The world is in a synchronous economic boom, for the first time since 2010. He is adding to it with a regressive unfunded tax-package contributing to the stock market's record highs. For the tax cuts, the bill will come later -- perhaps on the backs of the same middle class whose paychecks will have more take-home money from February as the president proudly pointed out.
Some congressional representatives touted left-leaning credentials by announcing their decision to boycott the SOTU address. It achieved little and might be considered a slight to the office of president.
If truth be told, most of our elected representatives are no longer responsive to the needs of the ordinary voter. Election victories correlate with political ads on TV, and these cost money. Fundraising is the name of the game, a time-consuming, lucrative activity that also makes politicians beholden to major donors. It is a fact Donald Trump was able to exploit by declaring he was not bought as he was using his own money -- and it struck a chord with many voters. Of course, his tax bill will allow him to keep more of it, perhaps even more than he spent in the election.
Not a bad deal. But then did he not claim to have written 'The Art of the Deal,' a runaway best seller?
Dr. Arshad M Khan is a former Professor whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media.