Tonight, we heard the president of the United States deliver a campaign speech from the floor of the United States House of Representatives — a misleading litany of half-truths, no-context statistics, and outright lies. He spent almost no time offering a forward-looking vision for the nation but had ample words about the “previous administration.” Three years in, and he is still more obsessed with erasing the progress of the Obama – Biden Administration than leading the American people responsibly.
President Trump pledged to protect healthcare for people with preexisting conditions, without mentioning that his administration is actively seeking to destroy the Affordable Care Act in court — the reason 100 million people have protections for preexisting conditions, and 20 million people gained health insurance. He touted job growth that in fact began when the Obama-Biden Administration arrested a global recession and shepherded our economy through recovery. He sought to claim credit for the accomplishments of Nancy Pelosi, Congressional Democrats and our partners in American labor in fixing his fatally flawed first draft of the USMCA trade deal. And he sought to uplift progress in the black community, all while dog whistling to the same white supremacists and neo-Nazis that marched in Charlottesville.
He invited the courageous interim president of Venezuela and president of the national assembly to attend, but his policy to oust the dictator Nicolas Maduro has been a complete failure, and he made no commitments to help address the massive humanitarian crisis or offer Temporary Protected Status to suffering Venezuelans. He promised to confront the fast-growing threat of coronavirus, but failed to acknowledge how he has disbanded the structures of the Obama-Biden Administration put in place to address pandemic disease and cut funding for U.S. global health security efforts. He promised to plant trees, but didn’t speak one word about the existential threat of climate change. He gave hollow lip service to respecting our nation’s diversity, then attacked and demonized undocumented immigrants, and asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution.
In one fell swoop, Trump delivered a speech worthy of the worst demagogue and turned his constitutional obligation to inform Congress about the state of our union into an episode of reality television. He even awarded our nation’s highest civilian honor, not to the real American hero in the gallery — one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen — but a conservative media personality who has done as much as Trump himself to divide our nation. It was a shameful display.