If any other public figure regularly stumbled onto the stage clearly drugged to the gills, it would be a major scandal. But somehow Donald Trump can appear over and over, sniffling at the end of each sentence and slurring his words as if he’s downed a fifth of Wild Turkey, and not one news network will mention not only that Trump’s speech was full of white supremacist rhetoric and an endless stream of lies, but that he was having such trouble simply reading that his words often had to be interpreted from context.
Not that it rally mattered. A Republican Congress, still nervous that it hadn’t licked his boots sufficiently, stood to applaud with even more frequency than Trump snorted. Game show stunts. Huzzah! Failing government schools. Huzzah! Medal of freedom sullied forever. Double huzzah!
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rippling up the pages was far more courtesy than this toilet stain of a speech deserved.
Remember what a disaster America was under Barack Obama? You know, when the economy was growing faster, millions more people had health care, the environment was protected, and the deficit was a trillion dollars smaller? Yeah, that hellscape.
But just as the tea party movement sprang into existence on a raft of instant amnesia over George W. Bush plunging the nation into economic disaster and endless war (plus racism), Trump spent much of his speech pushing the idea that he had pulled America from the dark ages … racism pun intended. In fact, racism wasn’t an add-on to Trump’s speech; it was a theme, especially when it came to repeated claims about “criminal illegal aliens.”
In the real world, factory output is down, tariffs are costing the economy billions, and farm bankruptcies are up over 50% in just two years. But Trump is a creature who laces his speeches not only with lies, but also with fantasies about his messianic effect. If not for Trump, all factories would be gone, the stock market would have crashed, and Iowa would be having a second dust bowl. Evidence? None required.
When not selling lies and hate, Trump punctuated the speech with awkward inclusions of “personal stories,” most only vaguely connected to the content of the speech. Among these was Trump hiding a soldier backstage for a cheap emotional trick, and surprising the parents of a young woman who had spent her life reaching out with love with the news that a military raid had been named in her honor. And there was … Rush Limbaugh. But the highlight of the whole evening may have been Trump assuring a young girl that he was going to save her from a “failing government school,” as the secretary of education rose in applause.
Throughout the night, Trump played to his base. Lies about abortion. Lies about health care. Lies about guns. Trump also spent a nice chunk of the speech talking about religious freedom without mentioning any religion except Christianity … until he got around to talking about radical Islamic terrorists.
In merely shredding Trump’s speech at its conclusion, Nancy Pelosi was exceptionally kind—especially considering that Trump refused to shake her offered hand at the evening’s beginning.
Next year will be different. When Trump is gone.