IWF President Carrie Lukas has an excellent response to President Trump's first State of the Union address on our website.
As Carrie says, Americans, including American women, have much to applaud from the president's first year policies, which President Trump highlighted last night–women's unemployment is at a 17-year-low, for example. Carrie also addresses President Trump's call for paid family leave. IWF has just released a policy focus paper that outlines an approach to family leave that does not grow government.
I urge you to read Carrie's response because she hits all the important points of last night. But I'd like to offer a few observations on smaller points.
First off, the First Lady's guests–I've come to dread this orchestrated and artificial parade of "ordinary Americans" that has become part of the State of the Union address. Last night it was terrific. What wonderful Americans and how well-presented their stories!
In a highly recommended column headlined "Trump Took 'Telling Ordinary Americans Stories' to a Whole New Level," John Podhoretz noticed the same thing:
Who was not rendered misty-eyed by the story of Ryan Holets, the 27-year-old Albuquerque cop who came across an addicted pregnant woman and later adopted her baby because he heard God calling to him to do so — after which he and his wife named the baby Hope?
Who did not feel sorrow when hearing of and seeing the families of two teenage girls killed by MS-13 gang members — and the family of Otto Warmbier, the college student who was effectively tortured to death by the North Korean regime?
It might seem exploitative to use their grief to advance policy prescriptions, but all three families chose of their own free will to attend the speech so that their loved ones could be remembered.
On and on Trump went, introducing ordinary American after ordinary American and citing the country’s strength and nobility and purpose — and the memory of his bizarre inaugural address about an America awash in carnage seemed to have been delivered by an entirely different person.
CBS polling immediately after the speech indicated that it went over extremely well with audiences–75 percent of viewers approved. Sixty-five percent said the speech made them proud. A third said it made them feel safer. The partisan make-up of the viewing audience should be noted: forty-two percent of viewers were Republicans, twenty-five percent Democrats and thirty-three percent independents.
Meanwhile, elected Democrats who attended the SOTU (an unprecedented number stayed home) clearly showed their displeasure by mostly refusing to applaud or stand. Patrice points out six times the Democrats didn't cheer or stand when they really should have. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's face registered distaste throughout the evening.
Two revealing moments: The Congressional Black Caucus remained seated when President Trump touted record low African American unemployment, and the president was booed when he called for an end to chain migration (even though the Trump administration has offered DACA immigrants a more generous plan than the previous administration in return for border security).
The State of the Union is an exercise in pomp and circumstance. There are good reasons for a return to a letter outlining the state of the union from the president to Congress. It was good enough for Thomas Jefferson, why not later presidents?
But it has to be said that, despite the scowling and sedentary opposition in the chamber last night, President Trump made good use of the occasion to present himself–and his country–in the best light.