Unity and Exceptionalism: Trump’s State of Union Flurries

“Trump is hated by everyone,” comes one unnamed former official in an account to Vanity Fair, one supposedly sourced after the President’s State of the Union Address.  Another claimed that all was wretched in the White House: “It’s total misery. People feel trapped.”  Off record stuff, unnamed and, as ever, doing nothing to concern a leader whose interests have always lain elsewhere.  Whatever the chronic dysfunction affecting the West Wing, what mattered for Donald Trump was simply getting his State of the Union address going. And long it was too – 82 minutes, making it the third longest in history.

The address saw Trump return to what he is most comfortable with: campaign mode.  Governance is less important than combat.  When there are troubles, and when there is crisis, he searches for the rally, the reassurances of his formidable and, it would seem, unshakeable base still ignored on either side of the coast.  The speech was seen by Susan Glasser of The New Yorker as “sort of gauzy” with hints of “World War II triumphalism”.

The language was, in the main, thin puffery, that of the exceptional nation which had “saved freedom, transformed science” and done more than its bit to redefine “the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see.” In a sense, this is true: the paradox of US living is that it supposedly reconciles middle class living with horrendous swathes of indigence and an active food stamp culture, a…

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