The New York Times described Trump's SOTU on Tuesday as "veer[ing] between two moods --- combative and conciliatory." Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer described it as "sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the excitement and the enthusiasm was all in the Mr. Hyde parts."
A majority of Americans who watched it, however, approved of the Trump's remarks, at least according to early polling weighted towards self-identified Republicans and right-leaning independents.
Our two excellent guests today, award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and author and political media critic ERIC BOEHLERT formerly of ShareBlue and Media Matters, now a contributor for Daily Kos, join us to make sense of both parts (all parts?) of Trump's at-times disjointed, at-times collegial, and at-times aggressive remarks as they veered conversely between out-and-out lies to something more closely resembling facts but shamefully lacking in context.
Did Trump meet the bar set for him by his own White House aides who'd promised new calls for "unity" and "bi-partisan cooperation" in his speech? Is Trump capable or even interested in that?
"These State of the Unions are typically the least awful thing Trump does in any given week," Boehlert observes, "because it's a prepared speech, it's poorly written, he delivers it poorly. But there are moments where he does appeal to independents. And then he goes back to the crazies."
Says Parton: "If the idea was to unify the Republicans, then yes, it obviously worked. By their measure, I think they probably did what they wanted to do. ... [But] there is no President in American history who is less authentic-sounding than Donald Trump when he's calling for unity and bipartisanship. And they know it."
Beyond those optics, we also dig into, among many other things in today's lively, very fast-paced hour: Trump's ridiculous threats against "ridiculous partisan investigations"; The striking image of a sea of new and veteran female Democratic Representatives dressed in suffragette white; Nancy Pelosi's triumphant new-again role as House Speaker; Trump's obsessive (not to mention graphic and largely false or misleading) continuing advocacy for a southern border just days away from another potential federal government shutdown; The stunning number of important issues (from the climate crisis to gun violence to the recent record-long shutdown and much more) that Trump didn't bother to even mention, for some reason; The misleading use of Venezuela's ongoing political crisis as an attempt to smear "socialism" in the U.S. in advance of 2020; and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' very smart, spirited and inspiring response to Trump's dark, long, and largely fact and substance-free SOTU...
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)