- - Wednesday, January 31, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Resistance” is highly popular in the salons of the Democratic left, but it’s a dish best served hot inside the Democratic bubble. The dish does not travel well, and there appears scant appetite for it where happy people live.

President Trump’s report on the State of the Union, given to Congress as required by law and the Constitution, was by any bipartisan measurement a big success. A poll of its audience by CBS News, taken at the conclusion of the president’s speech, showed that a stunning 74 percent of viewers thought it was a good and positive speech.

CNN, which regards itself as the voice of the Democratic bubble and is usually careful to never say anything nice about Mr. Trump, took a poll of independents, and 76 percent of them said the speech was either “somewhat” or “very” positive. This was not what the network expected or wanted to hear.

The president’s remarks were, in fact, positive, firm, and reassuring, and all in all it was a presidential performance that, for a night at least, gave the lie to the never-Trump drumbeat that he is a towering polarizing figure whose ego is out of control and is a constant threat to world peace, cosmic comity and other desirable things.

He was uncharacteristically conciliatory, and by one count used the pronoun “we” 129 times in a speech that ran to an excessive 89 minutes. This was not the Donald Trump that the world has come to know and not love, though many Americans clearly do. If the State of the Union speech has become a predictable laundry list of accomplishments, meant to persuade if not reassure, it’s not Mr. Trump’s fault. This is the partisan occasion he inherited.

Presidents since Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat) have used the occasion to boast and point with pride, except on occasions when a minority president views with alarm, and until our own angry era, when it’s unfashionable and not to be forgiven, it was also an occasion for a bit of bonhomie and backpatting of old friends, instead of the current fashion of backstabbing.

Mr. Trump offered the Democrats in the chamber ample opportunity to join bipartisan applause for common achievements. But they preferred to sit back and enjoy a moment of bitter recriminations. Nancy Pelosi threatened to crack her mask of sullen disapproval to fiercely scowl when the president issued a call for working together. One or two Democrats marched out before the president finished his speech.

But no foolish rudeness was so unexpected as the stone-faced reaction of black congressmen, who neither applauded nor cheered when the president cited the lowest unemployment rate of black Americans in history. But why should they? They’re all employed in cushy jobs, drawing six-figure paychecks and catered to by a retinue of servants. They dare not celebrate success lest a president they despise get the credit.

On one side of the partisan aisle there were cheers and on the other nothing but jeers, some spoken and some not. Some Democrats were unhappy that the president was so cheerful. He not only used the pronoun “we” 129 times, but used the word “America” 80 times.

Not so long ago the optimists among us, weary of partisan bickering, insult and cheap complaining, said “it doesn’t have to be this way.” Clearly it does.

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