Trump’s SOTU show

Donald Trump gave his State of the Union speech in the US yesterday. Written speeches like this are more PR exercises than anything, and nothing Trump says can be taken as set in stone. In fact he was typically contradictory, calling for unity as he continues to try to divide and conquer.

Trump asked for compromise but has shown little sign of wanting to compromise on his US-Mexico wall obsession.

“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution — and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good”.

If Trump shows some sign of rejecting the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution then I might take those words seriously, but this sounds like are bizarre attempt at sounding grand by a speech writer that clashes with the image and acts of Trump.

From RealClear Politics:

For me political speeches like this don’t mean much other than providing a bit of carefully constructed rhetoric and theatre. It’s the actions of political leaders that matter.

From CNN: 5 key takeaways from Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech

The line likely to be quoted most — especially by Trump’s critics — from the speech was this one:

“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.”

It’s quite a line, given that Trump’s administration is in the midst of an investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, his company is in the midst of an investigation by the Southern District of New York and House Democrats are preparing a series of investigations into, among other things, Trump’s Cabinet, his taxes and the firing of FBI director James Comey.

It’s also a line that evokes a less-than-ideal comparison for Trump.

“I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end,” said then-President Richard Nixon in his 1974 State of the Union speech. “One year of Watergate is enough.”

Trump doesn’t want it to work that way, but it is unlikely the Mueller investigation or any planned investigations by Congress will be deterred by Trump’s plaintive plea.

White House says SOTU will have unifying tone, while Trump attacks Pelosi

Donald Trump  seems to confuse greatness with grateness.

He is prone to contradictions and making odd statements, often out of step with his own officials and administration, and with his speech writers.

That continues as the White House has suggested his State Of The Union speech will have ‘a unifying tone’, at the same time as Trump attacks House leader Nancy Pelosi, and says he will call the Democrats to heal old wounds. It doesn’t sound like he is intent on healing growing rifts over immigration and his wall.

NY Times:  State of the Union Will Have Unifying Tone, White House Says

President Trump plans to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to outline a bipartisan and optimistic vision of the country, a senior administration official said on Friday.

It could be a difficult sell.

In the past few weeks, as he has tried to navigate his way out of a political standoff with Democrats, Mr. Trump has ramped up his anti-immigration messaging, stormed out of meetings with Democratic leaders and refused to accept any compromise that does not ultimately include funding for a border wall.

And while the White House said on Friday that the goal of the speech was to bring together a divided government and a divided nation, the official said immigration would emerge as the main theme.

The overarching theme of the speech, the official said, will be “Choosing Greatness,” and it will focus on issues where there is a possibility of bipartisan consensus: infrastructure, lowering health care and prescription drug costs, protecting American workers affected by what he described as “decades of flawed trade deals” and safeguarding national security.

‘Choosing Greatness’ seems to mean acknowledging Trump’s perception of his own greatness, which he seems to confuse with grateness.

The president will also call on Congress to replace what he described as the “Nafta disaster” with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and discuss the trading relationship with China.

I thought that Trump scrapped NAFTA and renegotiated it. perhaps he didn’t get it all his own way as he expected with his great negotiating prowess.

But while the White House tries to talk up unity Trump continues to do his best to divide.

CBS:  Pelosi is “very bad for our country,” Trump says

Days before a State of the Union address in which he’s expected to stress unity, President Trump said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “very bad for the country,” in an exclusive interview with CBS News “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan.

The president also suggested Pelosi “doesn’t mind human trafficking,” or she wouldn’t oppose funding his border wall.

“Well, I think that she was very rigid — which I would expect — but I think she’s very bad for our country,” the president said, when asked what he learned after negotiating with Pelosi in recent weeks. “She knows that you need a barrier. She knows that we need border security. She wanted to win a political point. I happen to think it’s very bad politics because basically, she wants open borders. She doesn’t mind human trafficking or she wouldn’t do this.”

Mr. Trump said Thursday he doesn’t think lawmakers will reach a deal to fund his border wall. Mr. Trump told Brennan that Pelosi is doing a “terrible disservice to our country.”

“She’s — she’s costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what’s happening is, when you have a porous border and when you have drugs pouring in, and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi who don’t want to give proper border security for political reasons — she’s doing a terrible disservice to our country”.

Typically Trump is blaming Pelosi for the shutdown that he was largely responsible for.

NY Times on his SOTU speech:

“Together we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future,” Trump plans to say, according to the excerpt, which was read to reporters at a briefing on Friday.”

There didn’t seem to be much togetherness tone in his CBS  interview.

CBS:

Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill responded to the president’s remarks, saying, “The president knows, bluster aside, that Democrats are committed to securing our borders while upholding our values as a nation. The president should stop undermining bipartisan efforts to do just that.”

“President Trump’s recklessness didn’t make us safer, it undermined our security with 35 days of border patrol agents, DEA agents, FBI agents and Homeland Security personnel missing paychecks. Democrats have put forward strong, smart and effective border security solutions in the bipartisan conference committee, while the President still refuses to take a second shutdown off the table”.

NY Times:

And although the president agreed to three weeks of negotiations to end the impasse, he said on Thursday that the talks are “a waste of time” and strongly hinted that he would declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and obtain wall funding.

Mr. Trump suggested on Friday that he would announce his decision on declaring a national emergency during the State of the Union speech.

“I don’t want to say,” he told reporters when asked if he was planning to do so. “You’ll hear the State of the Union and let’s see what happens,” he said.

White House officials have been warning him against the action, but they also view it as a potential last-ditch exit ramp if they cannot find another face-saving solution.

This is all business as usual for Trump. He is either ignoring his own White House, or is deliberately sending different messages.

I don’t think that speak out of both sides of his mouth will be very face-saving.