Trump rips democracy in SOTU but renders a new high in game-show prize reveals
How strange, Lord Haw Haw gets an Iron Cross. There was a scholarship giveaway, a reunion, and all it needed was that DNA sample in the E. Jean Carroll defamation suit for Maury Povich’s on-camera reveal.
Democrats were more reserved for Trump’s bit awarding an African American girl from Philadelphia with a so-called “school choice” scholarship. Trump at first highlighted the presence of his guest, fourth-grader Janiyah, to bash Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of a program expanding tax credits for donations to scholarships for children to attend private or charter schools.
As Trump then announced that Janiyah would receive such a scholarship, Republicans cheered enthusiastically. Democrats lent some applause, but others looked uncomfortable with the moment.
The ultimate example of Trump’s use of the speech for made-for-TV moments was the family reunion he staged between a military wife, her small children and her husband, a sergeant who had been serving in Afghanistan. The wind-up for the moment included Trump’s gratitude for the “sacrifice” of Amy Williams, the wife who was sitting with the First Lady as a guest, while noting her 3-year old and 6-year-old had not seen their father in “many months.”
He then departed from his prepared remarks to announce the “very special surprise” that her husband Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams was back from his deployment and was at the Capitol tonight. With perfect timing, the veteran came down the balcony for Trump’s guests, and was greeted with hugs from his children and a kiss from his wife.
In the interest of digging a little deeper, here’s a little Jesus Seminar-style game you can play with these marquee Trump speeches: Trying to puzzle out which bits were authentically his, and which one his staffers rolled him into going along with.
A cynic might contend this game is too easy to bother with. When Trump waxes eloquent about America’s exceptional, bipartisan future—“our biggest victories are still to come, we have not yet begun to dream”—well, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that’s the comms shop talking. When he mumbles through the climax of a pro-life segment (“All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God”) without even stopping to let Republicans applaud, it’s like he’s not even trying to convince the crowd that his heart’s really in it. On the other hand, when he follows up a genuinely touching moment—an impromptu chorus of “Happy Birthday” to a man who survived both the Holocaust and last year’s mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue—by joking that “they wouldn’t do that for me”? Breathe it in, baby: That’s the pure, unfiltered Trump.