Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mr. Trump Goes To Capitol Hill

I listened to Donald Trump's speech to Congress for as long as I could take, and I heard a lot of conciliatory platitudes that had little in common with his mean-spirited inaugural address but had just as much substance.  He invoked Republican President Abraham Lincoln to defend his own isolationist economic views (forgetting that Lincoln had no multilateral or even bilateral relationships to deal with), invoked Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System to promote his infrastructure program (but offered no specifics about what he wanted to build, apart from his great wall along the Mexican border), and again repeated his goal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (again, with no concrete ideas on how to do it).     
He also praised NATO after having dissed it, but thanked NATO members for paying more into the alliance, showing that he still views NATO not as a multilateral union but as a transaction. He tried to strike a positive tone for the future, looking forward to America's quarter-millenial, or 250th, anniversary in 2026 and the wonderful innovations and inventions we could see then.  He cited the great inventions that were displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (a fair from which blacks were mostly absent) and hinted that there could be a similar celebration in 2026 (forget our lousy track record this country has had of late with involvement in world's fairs, and forget also that the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations didn't work out so well).  His speech was easier to swallow than his inaugural address - but then, so is baby aspirin.  It was a kinder, gentler right-wing nationalist manifesto.  And his attempt to capitalize on the botch raid in Yemen by paying tribute to Ryan Owens, the Navy SEAL who died in that raid, was revolting.
And a President who's known for hissy tweets on issues of vital unimportance has a lot of damn gall to call for an end to obsession to trivial politics.  
And Steve Beshear delivering the Whig - oops, Democratic - opposition's response?  Well, it was a strong and solid argument for preserving the Affordable Care Act and standing up for working-class and middle-class values.  But there was just one thing wrong - Beshear is the former Democratic governor of Kentucky.  He defended his move to create a health-insurance exchange in the state, a point as moot as he is, given that his Republican successor has moved to dismantle it.  And if the Democrats need to get a former officeholder to defend the party, that should tell you how irrelevant current Democratic officeholders (not that there are that many of them) are.  

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