Raphael Cho ‘21
Entertainment Value: 3/5
After tumultuous midterms and a government shutdown, President Trump delivered his State of the Union Address to the 116th Congress last week. In his address to the nation, the President called for cooperation and compromise to overcome partisanship and petty squabbles. President Trump also highlighted the success of his economic and international policies. Overall, I gave the 2019 SOTU a 3/5. The President scored a lot of points on meme-ability and entertainment value, but the substance and rhetoric of his address were subpar according to my arbitrary criteria. Below are some musings on the SOTU. Enjoy.
One of the President’s central messages was overcoming the challenges of partisan politics. While many Congress-people visibly rolled their eyes, the President did deliver a moment of bipartisan applause when he celebrated the record number of Congresswomen in attendance. The most iconic, and meme-able, moment of the SOTU also occurred at this point with Nancy Pelosi’s literal clap back.
On a non-political note, the video directors of the SOTU have to be given some credit. The high entertainment value score, in fact, is largely attributable to the directors. If you’re not going to pan to Bernie Sanders’ perturbed face while President Trump marshals his forces against the red menace of socialism, why even televise the SOTU? Without the video directors, we would never get classic moments like President Trump disparaging military planning in Afghanistan while his top generals visibly think, “Bruh, not cool.”
President Trump also claimed that his economic policies have led to the lowest unemployment rates for minorities, reduced taxes for the middle class and increased business confidence. While I can’t and won’t speak to the accuracy of these claims, I did note that President Trump omitted his greatest economic contribution: bolstering the meme economy to levels unseen. Some might argue that current status of the meme economy was a product of the Obama administration and that a rising tide lifts all boats. However, President Trump is the equivalent of a one-man stimulus package and few can dispute his personal contributions to said meme e-conomy.
In an odd moment, President Trump claimed, “If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would, right now, be in a major war with North Korea.” While I admit that my information on the subject is infinitesimally small compared to the Commander-in-Chief’s, the President’s hypothetical seems as unrealistic, pandering, and unnecessary as the hypotheticals posed by gunners a minute before the end of class.
President Trump also posited that the only things that could stop the “economic miracle” happening in the United States were “politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.” The President’s statement undoubtedly gave the geriatric members of Congress flashbacks to Tricky Dick Nixon’s final SOTU. Although unconfirmed, some claim to have heard Alaska Representative Don Young (R-Geriatric) say, “Haven’t we seen this one already?”
On a more serious note, I found the rhetoric of the President’s address to be subpar, not (only) because of my own bias, but because of the ham-fisted nature of his rhetoric. What happened to subtlety and innuendo? If I’m going to be told what to think, I’d rather believe I’m getting there myself. For example, repeatedly calling the Mexico–U.S. border “our very dangerous southern border” is like using a howitzer to deliver a flu shot. Maybe I’m just too young to realize that’s how it’s always been, but all in all, Demosthenes would not be proud of the President.
To be honest, I only included this section to mention Mitch McConnell’s 1/3 inch, blue and white, pinstripe shirt coupled with his hot pink tie. I don’t know what’s more of a mismatch, Mitch McConnell’s shirt and tie or Mitch McConnell and AOC working on a bill together. Either way, the end product is hurtful to the eyes and should not be allowed on the floor.
Bearded Ted Cruz also gets an honorable mention. I personally think he looks better with the beard, but nothing says, “I will never be President,” like growing a beard after barely being reelected. Then again, Beto also seems to be growing a beard, so maybe Senator Cruz just wants to be barely better than Beto at another thing.
The State of the Union Address following the midterms often signals the policy agenda for the remainder of the President’s term. Generally speaking, President Trump’s agenda for the next year seems to be a mixed bag of old causes and enemies. Some of those policies we will be seeing in the near future are: stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, building a “physical barrier . . . or wall,” fighting socialism, reducing the price of prescription drugs, and watching Kim Jong Un honeypot our Government.
 For our less internet savvy readers, a meme is: a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.