He made America Great Again.
That’s the message ringing through Donald Trump’s “State of the Union” speech —the blueprint for his reelection campaign. The US President proclaimed a “great American comeback” of roaring prosperity, beating China, sparkling trade deals, new factories, and terrorist leaders wiped off the face of the earth.
“We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!” he said. That doesn’t sound like a President who is shamed after being impeached and needs Republican senators to keep him in office in a vote on Wednesday.
Trump also presided over the Oprah-fication of a cherished American ritual. The former reality show star reunited a soldier home from war abroad with his wife and children on live television. Almost all of the guests he highlighted during his speech were from ethnic minorities, in an apparent bid to belie the reality of a presidency that has often weaponized racial rhetoric. The climate-denying President even pledged to plant a trillion trees.
The bitterly polarized state of American politics was encapsulated by two remarkable moments: After entering the chamber, Trump turned his back on his host, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and did not shake her outstretched hand. Then at the end of one of the most politicized “State of the Union” addresses in history, Pelosi ostentatiously ripped up her copy of the speech.
Trump’s fans see a cultural ally in the Oval Office and an advocate on hard core policies on guns, religion, abortion and immigration. And they are likely to return to vote for him in even bigger numbers in November than they did in 2016.
But the question in November is whether Trump’s self-proclaimed economic miracle can convince sufficient numbers of Americans to put up with his scorched earth approach for four more years.