Before President Trump's second State of the Union address last night, CNN billed the event as "President Trump in Nancy Pelosi's house." The Free Beacon had some fun with that:
While the State of the Union address is given in the House Chamber and Pelosi (D., Calif.) is the speaker, the House of Representatives is more frequently referred to as the "People's House."
It is unclear if CNN referred to the State of the Union in 2011, the first one after the Republicans won back the House majority in 2010, as being "President Obama in John Boehner's house."
For 82 minutes last night, President Trump made it his Chamber, delivering what John Podhoretz termed "a bizarrely brilliant state of the union speech" (more on that in a second).
The President touted the economic boom that has occurred on his watch and called for unity, which is not going to happen, especially as the 2020 race is gearing up. But it was nevertheless good to be reminded that being radically divided is not an essential condition of our republic.
For me, the most important thing he did was frame the building of a wall on our southern border in moral terms. This is what he said:
This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.
This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.
Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.
No issue better illustrates the divide between America's working class and America's political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.
Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.
Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.
Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.
Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.
Trump introduced a family whose parents had been murdered by an illegal immigrant and praised "our brave ICE officers." The President introduced ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez, who is a legal immigrant to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic.
As for the "bizarrely brilliant" aspects of Trump's second SOTU, Podhoretz cites such moments as when the "newly elected Democratic women in the House of Representatives, dressed all in white, stood up and cheered while the very president they entered politics to oppose and defeat looked on approvingly."
Meanwhile, Podhoretz notes, the Republicans were so eager to cheer that they often came in at odd moments. And it may have been the first SOTU at which both sides of the aisle sang "Happy Birthday." The birthday guest was an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor.
Michael Goodwin has a great analysis of the SOTU, which he calls "bold." Perhaps Goodwin offers the best summary:
The state of the union is frighteningly divided and hostile, but the state of the president’s aim is sound. For all the talk of chaos and churn in his administration, Donald Trump knows what he’s about. As he always has, he’s playing to win.
Here is a transcript of the SOTU.