(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
The State of the Union address lasted eighty two minutes, but in one sentence Donald Trump captured its essence: there won’t be legislation if there are investigations. Trump reminded some pundits of Richard Nixon, who in one of his State of the Union addresses said that it was time to bring the Watergate investigation to an end, but the president’s situation differs from Nixon’s in two important ways: Nixon was only accused of playing a role in the cover up of the Watergate break-in and lying about it, while Trump is a potential suspect of conspiring with a foreign adversary to influence the presidential election in his favor and on top of that of money laundering, tax evasion and even being a agent of that adversary, while his violating campaign finance laws has already been proven in court. Additionally, Nixon had at least some respect for the US Constitution, while Trump’s statement was a frontal attack on Congress’s responsibility of exercising oversight of the Executive Branch. If anything, that sentence showed how scared Trump is of investigations not only of his election and inauguration, but probably even more of his business practices.
The president’s threat didn’t deter congressional Democrats, who immediately announced broad investigations into all of the above areas, crossing the ‘red line’ Trump had drawn where it came to investigating his business. Other than that, the address was solely intended to solidify his base, with fact free remarks about illegal immigrants and ‘the wall’ for the racists and rants about late term abortions and mentioning the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem for the Evangelicals. En passant the president took full credit for the ‘economic miracle’ that started eight years ago under Obama, and mentioned that there are more women in Congress now than at any time in US history, for which in a twisted way he can also take credit, because most of them decided to run in opposition to his agenda. The self-congratulatory foreign policy section contained praise for Trump’s irresponsible decisions to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement and from the INF treaty with Russia, which might start a new nuclear arms race, while high expectations were conveyed for the next meeting with Kim Jong-un, who is ready to bamboozle Trump once again.
In a televised interview before the Superbowl the president doubled down on his disbelief in information gathered by the American intelligence services, and produced the gaffe that some troops will remain in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran, upsetting the Iraqi leadership and risking the US presence in Iraq altogether. Subsequently it was leaked that intelligence briefers describe Trump’s attitude during the briefings as one of ‘willful ignorance,’ and are instructed not to tell the president anything he doesn’t already agree with, while mentioning his name and title as often as possible.
For a while it was expected that Trump would announce his intention to declare a national emergency and build a wall on the southern border in his State of the Union address, but Mitch McConnell made it clear to him that GOP senators would not support such a move, even though Lindsey Graham urged his colleagues to do just the opposite. With no other option left, yesterday the president indicated that he might be willing to accept a bipartisan compromise Congress is working on.
Absent in the State of the Union address was any reference to climate change, even a denial. Trump made up for that omission in a tweet the following day, declaring that global warming is a Chinese invention to negatively affect American economic growth and industrial effectiveness. It only illustrated that the president’s willful ignorance stretches far beyond national security matters.
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