Get the Widow on the Set: Trump’s State of the Union Address

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I felt like this, only worse

W.J. Astore

Last night’s State of the Union address was disturbing on many levels.  Republicans applauded when President Trump touted the elimination of the individual mandate for purchasing health care insurance — so it’s a good thing people have no health insurance?  Wait until they go to the emergency room for an appendectomy and leave with a bill for $20,000.  Republicans applauded as well when Trump touted the American prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.  So it’s a good thing our President is vowing to send more “terrorists” to an offshore U.S. military prison?

I could go on and on, but what was most disturbing to me was the use of people in the audience as props for Trump’s positions.  A brave soldier who won the Bronze Star for valor was celebrated to support America’s wars overseas.  Parents whose daughters were killed by illegal immigrants were used to support Trump’s policies on immigration.  A family whose son suffered grievous, ultimately deadly, wounds in North Korea was used to support Trump’s bellicose policies toward Kim Jong-un and his regime, as was a courageous North Korean defector.

It reminded me of the Don Henley song, “Dirty Laundry” and its lines: Can we film the operation?/Is the head dead yet?/You know the boys in the newsroom got a running bet/get the widow on the set/we need dirty laundry. 

The shameless exploitation of other people’s grief is something I can’t stand.  It’s sordid and cynical and dirty.  There are many other things I could say about Trump’s State of the Union address, but my overall feeling was one of exploitation.  After his speech, I felt dirty.

12 thoughts on “Get the Widow on the Set: Trump’s State of the Union Address

  1. Too many Americans need props, visual aids, basically anything that offers validation. More people should realize what they really want is validation and that they ARE the props in a culture of insecurity.

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  2. I admire your intestinal fortitude, Bill. Thank you for watching so that I didn’t have to. Personally, I prefer the adjective “unclean” to “dirty” when watching or listening to politicians and/or generals because my working-class widowed mom used to say of people who earned a living with their hands and not their mouths: “That’s good honest dirt under those fingernails.”

    Apropos of your remarks in the other thread concerning the Kennedy Administration (1961-1963), I await your review of the Democratic party’s response by Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Patrick Kennedy III. I have seen only brief snippets of it so I will withhold comment until I have read the compete text.

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    1. Mike: I watched Joe Kennedy’s response. The best words I can think of are “earnest” and “competent.” The speech, not surprisingly, was more inclusive and more moderate than Trump’s. But all in all I thought the response lacked bite. Perhaps the most memorable line was about resisting bullies — that they may land a few punches, but that they won’t win. This was obviously aimed at bully-boy Trump.

      On the whole, the Kennedy speech neither hurt nor helped the party, at least in my view. I was somewhat surprised that he didn’t appeal to the rhetoric of JFK or RFK. Trying to be his own man?

      Of course, people here are focusing on the car with its hood up behind him (he gave the speech at a vocational high school), which made some wags think of Chappaquiddick. Others are focusing on shiny spots by his mouth (apparently from too much chap-stick or Vaseline). That’s what passes for deep analysis here in America.

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      1. Mike: Joe Kennedy’s speech included this line: “Russia knee-deep in our democracy.”

        Even though I suspect Russia favored Trump over Hillary, and at the very least targeted social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, I would never claim that Russia is “knee-deep” in America’s democracy. There are many others who are truly knee-deep and interfering with our democracy, notably Hillary and Crew in 2015-16, dominating the DNC, corporations and banks that gave big money to the Democrats and largely call the shots, etc. etc.

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      2. Bill: I just started reading the text of Joe Kennedy’s speech and this jumped right out at me: “Russia knee-deep in our democracy.” I stopped reading right there. Just another corporate Democrat reeling off talking points without a clue as to the truth of things. Oh well, he had my attention for a few minutes there. I left the Democratic party and voted Green in the last election for good and numerous reasons. Looks like I will again. And if I hear another so-called “Democrat” talk of “fighting” for something, I think I’ll puke.

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      3. Not just the young Congressman Kennedy, but practically the entire Democratic party has leaped without looking onto the wildly careening “Russians Did Something” bandwagon as it hurtles toward the beckoning edge of Credibility Chasm. Just a day or two ago, I saw four African American Congress-persons (two women and two men) on an interview program speculating about whether they would attend The Donald’s “Taste of the Onion” (TOTO) speech or stay away in silent protest. One of the “men” (and I use that word advisedly) just had to get in a shot at “Putin.” I never did get what his comment had to do with President Trump. When this gigantic hot air balloon (to switch metaphors) explodes, I don’t see where the Democrats will go to dodge the blowblack. As Mike Whitney writes in his article, The Loser Dems for
        The Unz Review (January 31, 2018):

        “The Democrats don’t seem to understand that the Russia investigation has made Trump stronger not weaker. They don’t see that their evidence-free probe has strengthened Trump’s base and convinced his supporters that their leader is being unfairly attacked. (According to a January Quinnipiac survey, a full eighty-three percent of Republicans believe the current investigation is “a witch hunt”. The data suggests that Russia-gate has rallied Trump’s backers to his defense.) Dems don’t grasp that, in the last 12 months, Trump has pushed through a massive tax bill followed by immigration reform that has broadened his support and silenced his GOP critics. When Trump took office, McConnell, Ryan and Graham were all on opposite sides of the political divide. Now Trump has them eating out of his hand. He took a fractious, splintered party and forced them to fall in line. Trump has succeeded in unifying his base while the collusion fiasco has had no noticeable impact at all. None.” [emphasis added]

        It looks to me like the Democrats invited themselves to play Russian Roulette with an empty gun (Yikes! Another metaphor!) and still managed to blow out their own “brains.” As Mike Witney writes at the conclusion of his article:

        “It’s time to pull up our big boy pants and face the facts: The Democratic party is NOT a suitable vehicle for the progressive agenda. It just isn’t. We need to cut our losses and move on.”

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      4. What I’d like to hear, Mike, is a Democrat who speaks from the heart. Someone like Bernie Sanders. A true champion for the working classes. And someone with some experience of living with people like us.

        Kennedy delivered a prepared speech with canned lines. The Russia line was a clunker that didn’t belong in this speech. Talk about helping people! With their health care, their wages, their taxes, their families and their problems (e.g. drug addiction), education, and so on. That’s what people care about.

        And talk as well about ending America’s forever wars. About saving lives rather than taking them. And talk about America as a land of immigrants. Own the issue on a personal level.

        Kennedy was earnest but there were probably too many hands on his speech. So the speech was forgettable.

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  3. Looking at the illustrative picture accompanying this article, I noticed the women photo-props seated glumly in a row and I hallucinated about an alternative scenario where a President You-Know-Her would have on display a different line-up of Symbol Sisters: this one featuring self-described #metoo “victims” of past male “sexual” harassment, most notably not including Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, or Jennifer Flowers, just to name a few of horndog-husband Bubba Bill’s bimbo playthings. FOX News, of course, would zoom in on the seated row of former Hollywood starlets and campaign “aides,” cut out You-Know-Her’s vapid monologue, and substitute a scathingly sardonic soundtrack of Tammy Wynette’s C&W single: “Stand by your man.” Then I woke up and this happened:

    Always Moving to the Right (or “Center”)

    Red-baiting wthout the reds,
    Dick Nixon without the dick,
    McCarthy went off her meds
    And tail-gunner Jane got sick.

    The Russians did something, but,
    No evidence proves a thing.
    The war witch got beat. So what?
    She wanted, and got, her fling:

    A last chance at breaking glass,
    The ceiling and not the floor,
    But fell on her ample ass
    And got booted out the door.

    She lost to a game-show host,
    A rookie on his first jaunt,
    A real-estate con at most,
    With money and wives to flaunt.

    More dollars she raised, then blew
    On pollsters who told her stuff,
    Except what they never knew:
    That people had said, “Enough!”

    They just wanted peace and jobs.
    No NAFTA or TPP.
    It hurt when she called them slobs,
    Deploring their dignity.

    She campaigned as if by rote,
    Neglecting a few key states.
    The neophyte, he took note
    And trashed her in their debates.

    The voters held up one hand.
    The finger to her they gave,
    Then sent (with a TV brand!)
    Her dreams to an early grave.

    She never did think to look
    How far from the Left she’d run.
    So seeing, the Right-guy took
    One step to the Left — and won.

    She then wrote a book (she said),
    Explaining (though in the dark),
    “What Happened” the title read
    But left out the question mark.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2018

    I’ve just got to stop drinking so much coffee so late at night …

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  4. Liked the Henley Analogy mine would be “This is the Last Worthless Evening…” I skipped the banalities of one of our last vestiges to a King– the worthless “State of the Union”! Instead opting to watch with the Wife “Fixer Upper” with Chip & JoJo… :o)

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  5. I watched so my readers don’t have to
    Thank you!
    There was no way I could have sat through that CHARADE…
    One thing our elected officials are experts at is, “symbolic exploitation”…. for the moment….. everything forgotten the next day!

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  6. First of all thank you for watching the State of the Union for us. > I watched so my readers don’t have to.<

    I feel you deserve a Medal. I realize you are retired. This act of individual bravery in the face of hostile enemy fire deserves some recognition. Therefore, I award you the State of the Union Medal 2018, for actions beyond the call of duty. You probably needed a long hot shower afterwards to cleanse your body, and mediation to cleanse the mind.

    As a draftee and E-4 I hid behind a tree and watched the X-Files – "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat"
    Exploring the idea of The Mandela Effect, in which large groups of people remember an alternate history. You may find this episode amusing, given our current state of alternative facts.

    The Democrat response was tepid at best. It took a non-Democrat Bernie Sanders to place Trump and the issues in perspective. http://inthesetimes.com/article/20872/bernie-sanders-state-of-the-union-response-full-text-donald-trump-2018

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