If you missed the speech tonight you have a lot of catching up to do. It ran about an hour and 20 minutes not including all the pomp and circumstance before and after. I’ll incluse some brief clips of the highlights but the full video is below.
Trump started with a focus on the strength of the economy and ended by talking about the North Korean regime. In between, there were well over a hundred interruptions for applause and quite a few special guests who were recognized by the president.
Line of the night: “Americans are dreamers too.”
The line of the night came at the end of Trump’s defense of an America First approach. After introducing two families whose teen daughters were killed by MS-13 gang members, Trump said he was proud America was a leader in helping people in need around the world but added, “As President of the United States my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities.” He continued, “I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise. So tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed.
“My duty and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream because Americans are dreamers too.” Here’s the clip:
Image of the night: Ji Seong-ho holds up his crutches
Near the end of the speech, Trump spent several minutes discussing North Korea. He told the story of Ji Seong-ho who endured starvation, the amputation of his leg, torture, and brutality toward his family. He finally escaped North Korea on crutches and now lives in South Korea helping other North Koreans escape the regime. After Trump told the story he said, “Today he has a new leg but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those old crutches as a reminder of how far you’ve come.” Ji Seong-ho then stood and held up the crutches which brought a cheer from the floor below.
Otto Warmier’s parents
Another powerful moment was Trump’s remembrance of Otto Warmbier who was arrested by the North Korean regime for pulling down a banner in his hotel. He went through a show trial and months later was returned to the U.S. in a coma. He died days after he returned. The Warmbier’s son Otto was murdered by the regime because he was an American so it was nice to see them recognized. Their response to Trump’s invocation of their son’s name was heartbreaking to watch.
Officer Ryan Holets and his wife Rebecca
One more emotional moment worth mentioning from the speech. Trump praised Officer Ryan Holets and his wife Rebecca for offering to adopt the child of a woman addicted to heroin. Trump called them an example of the “goodness of our nation.”
President Trump honors Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officer Ryan Holets who, with his wife, adopted the baby of a homeless woman addicted to heroin: “Ryan and Rebecca, you embody the goodness of our nation” #SOTU https://t.co/qqeomf3rg1 https://t.co/SpbK89TD27
— CNN (@CNN) January 31, 2018
I’m not really devoting a lot of time to the politics of the speech but there will be time for that tomorrow. The lowlight had to be Democrats sitting on their hands and scowling through Trump’s recitation of positive economic news. Here’s the full speech if you’re so inclined:
The Democratic response to the speech was handled by Joseph Kennedy III. It was an improvement over most such efforts for one reason: They arranged the speech with a live audience, which meant it didn’t have the usual, claustrophobic feel. The crowd was a little over-enthusiastic for most of the short speech but I’m sure they were encouraged to be supportive for the cameras.
As for the speech itself, I heard someone on TV describe it as “dark” and that was my impression too. Kennedy’s vision of American bordered on dystopian at times. Where Trump was optimistic about our economy and our future as a nation, Kennedy seemed to deliver a message to a resistance that sees mostly cause for concern in America. I found it off-putting, but then I wasn’t the target audience. I’m sure this went over great with some Democrats.