Editorial: Trump's speech mirrors his reality TV presidency
The one positive thing you can say about Trump’s State of the Union speech is that it had entertaining moments. Trump’s brilliance, if that’s a fitting word, is that he believes in the power of reality TV and brings a larger-than-life version of the presidency into his supporters’ living rooms with the same sort of hysterics and fakery you see on The Real Housewives, Duck Dynasty and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
That his presidency is, therefore, based on lies, deceit, fakery and a complete lack of integrity is what we now know is to be expected.
To that point, Trump told an entertaining, but wholly inaccurate, fable about his impact on the national economy. Indisputable facts from his own economists show clearly that Trump’s actions have not turned the nation’s economy from what he falsely claimed was “ American carnage” to the booming engine of growth it is today.
On the contrary, Trump’s inherited an economy that President Barack Obama had spent eight years digging out from the pits of despair following the nation’s worst recession in 75 years. The Great Recession that hit the country in 2007-09 had been prompted by President George W. Bush’s two tax cuts, invading Iraq and getting mired in Afghanistan, and creating a disastrous housing crisis by relaxing regulations on the banking and finance industry.
While President Obama successfully navigated a slow but steady recovery, it would have occurred faster and had greater results had Republicans, who came into the majority two years after Obama was elected, not strangled the recovery by feigning concern over the deficit and killing Democrat initiatives to juice the economy on its climb out of the recession – precisely when stimulus spending is most effective. (Republicans, of course, dropped their concern over deficit spending once Trump was elected, boosted tax cuts for the richest Americans, and blew the national deficit sky-high (more than doubling the national deficit) in the three years since Trump was elected.
Yet, this is what Trump said in Wednesday’s speech:
“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!”
He drew partisan boos from Democrats in the chamber when he said if his administration “had not reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration, the world would not now be witness to America’s great economic success,” because it was an abject lie.
On the contrary, economic facts show that GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and the rising stock market over the past three years have merely continued the economic trend set during Obama’s second term. Fact: Growth registered at 2.3 percent last year, and the Congressional Budget Office projects it will come in around 2.2 percent this year — well below the rate Trump promised to deliver in his first term and on par with Obama’s eight years — even though Republicans passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut they claimed would goose the economy to 3-4 percent growth and lower the deficit.
Add in Trump’s “easy-to-win” tariff battles, which have created huge cost for sectors of the American economy and driven up prices for American consumers (a tax of another kind on those who can least afford it), and the nonsense about Trump being responsible for a booming economy is a fiction only those blinded by Fox’s Morning Show propaganda could believe.
The danger in Trump’s lies and Fox News’ supporting propaganda is that too many Americans can no longer tell truth from fiction.
Worse yet, Trump ’s singular talent to deceive others, along with bankrupt morals, allow him to befuddle and intimidate today’s Republican party to his personal benefit.
When Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ripped up Trump’s speech, literally and figuratively, in her response, it was a fitting gesture simply because the whole of the speech — despite some entertaining moments — was such bunk. That, too, was a made for TV moment. And like with most reality TV shows, viewers turned off the TV feeling sullied by the aftermath and appalled by the low level of discourse to which our nation has fallen.
Will the Republic survive? Will Republican voters grasp the damning truth of Trump’s actual policies? Will Americans appeal to their better selves and reject the divisions and partisanship this president sows and the chaos he thrives on?
The answer is plain: Not if this reality TV star president can help it — and that’s a dismal reflection of today’s state of the union.