In last night’s State of the Union, Donald Trump said all of the usual State of the Union stuff. America is great and is getting greater. To succeed, Democrats and Republicans must come together. He highlighted the contributions of American citizens who had done extraordinary things. But there were also some Trumpian flourishes. He tied immigration to brutal gang violence. He said “Americans are DREAMers too,” a dig at Democrats who have highlighted the plight of undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. He used a child to attack NFL players who knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality. The speech was at once horrifying and forgettable.
Last year, Trump gave a similar speech and was heralded by pundits across the spectrum for seeming “presidential.” A day later, he was back to tweeting bile. This year, many of 2017’s worst offenders were more muted. Van Jones, who last year said Trump “became president” during his speech, refrained from praise. “He was selling sweet-tasting candy—with poison in it,” Jones said. But other outlets acted as if this was just your regular old State of the Union. Here’s The Washington Post’s initial front page, which was changed after an outcry on social media:
The New York Times also went with the “Trump embraces bipartisanship” narrative:
Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who has been a critic of the president, gushed:
While Trump’s speech may have called for bipartisanship, it could not be said to embrace compromise, or even a positive vision for the country. When it wasn’t completely bland and forgettable, it was dark and disturbing. Whenever Trump plays president, media outlets fawn. But there is no Trump reset and there never will be.