Last night, President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address. It was a strong speech, focusing on his Administration's accomplishments in the first year and his policy goals to continue making American great again. As many commentators have noticed, in contrast to President Obama's State of the Union speeches, President Trump focused on "we" instead of "I" and on the greatness of America and the American people.
Of the many first-year accomplishments that President Trump noted, a few are especially noteworthy from a legal perspective (additions to prepared remarks from the delivered speech noted in brackets):
For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their Government.
Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court Justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.
We are [totally] defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty. . . .
In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in [the] history [of our country].
Also notable last night was the sheer recalcitrance of the Democrats. It is common for the opposing party at State of the Union addresses not to applaud or rise for the President's policy proposals. But the number of normally non-partisan things for which the Democrats (with a few exceptions) did not applaud or stand is astounding:
Record-low African-American and Hispanic unemployment (the silence from the Congressional Black Caucus was deafening)
Infrastructure spending (a perennial Democratic policy proposal)
The strength of the American people
Rising wages and prosperity
Return of jobs to America
Approval of life-saving medications and treatments (a.k.a. "right to try")
The entrance and introduction of the President
The National Anthem
"In God We Trust" (the official motto of the U.S. by statute)
Not telling America's enemies our plans and giving aid to allies and not enemies
See here and here. As Fox News reported, there were a couple exceptions to the scowls from the Democrats:
Members during the address chose not to stand when Trump honored Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and praised his resolve for returning to work less than four months after he “took a bullet” from a gunman and "almost died.”
And they chose not join in the applause for a 12-year-old boy in the gallery whom Trump praised for putting flags on soldiers’ graves on Veterans Day.
“Democrats are no longer just the party of resistance and obstruction, they are now also the party of sitting on their hands,” said the Republican National Committee. “No matter the issue, Democrats chose to sit on their hands tonight.”
There were three notable exceptions among Democrat senators. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., all red state Democrats facing tough re-election bids in November, stood and applauded multiple times.
Today, Sen. Manchin called out his Democratic colleagues for being "disrespectful," though Sen. Manchin also felt the peer pressure not to applaud or stand at times as well.
So while President Trump delivered a strong speech, highlighting and praising American values and the American people, the Democrats continued their resistance to such an extent that they would not even recognize those shared American values and the value of the American people. As the President would say, SAD!