“He’s getting great reviews,” Wolf Blitzer said on CNN after Donald Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday. I suppose this makes my review a hot take.
To treat Trump’s presidency fairly is to view it as a kind of performance art; it’s not to judge Trump’s speeches on the content, but on their entertainment value.
Either way, I regret tuning in tonight.
There’s a banality to this class of political speeches that they’ve learned in places like North Korea to ignore as a means of survival—so you don’t go crazy, hearing the same shit repeated over a loudspeaker. It’s an art we’re still learning in the United States.
Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress didn’t tell us much we didn’t already know.
As I watched, I was thinking the same thing as many of you: Nadamucho. I thought what I often think lately—this must be America’s greatest experiment with reality TV. Each evening like this, I wonder if the next day I’ll awake and realize we’ve all been punked. Or perhaps California will be part of Mexico again? (I write this from Los Angeles.)
Trump’s speech had no answers to looming budgetary concerns resounding across party lines. No comment on rampant Islamophobia as a national phenomenon. No comments on the number of undocumented Americans without criminal records who have been targeted in recent raids. No comments on a tenth of Los Angeles going to bed in utter terror tonight. A (relatively) light dig at what had been a free press, before we were branded enemies of the American people and handpicked for meetings with Sean Spicer according our political proclivities. No comments on the mounting disrespect for an independent judiciary that separates Washington from Pyongyang.
In recent months, I’ve reached out to Trump countless times for comment. Tonight, he ignored your comment requests too.
Mr. Trump, we all have questions you’re ignoring. We’re not dumb enough to forget that we put in for the answers. Consider this my latest request for comment.
Still, CNN pundits across party lines—but most notably Rick Santorum— did wax poetic for a moment when Trump paid tribute to fallen Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens.
There were no major gaffes. All of what would have been shocking has been hammered home time and again already. Our senses have been whittled down so much that even the moderates on CNN had words of praise for a man who seemed to pin all crime in the U.S. on its undocumented community.
But if this presidency is actually a reality show with the occasional spoken word interlude, the speech ended well.
Toward the finish, Trump launched into an entirely incomprehensible, irrelevant series of patriotic words, repetitive and strung together like a Fruit Loop necklace.
(Read the italics or skip them, it’s all the same.)
This is our vision. This is our mission.
But we can only get there together.
We are one people, with one destiny.
We all bleed the same blood.
We all salute the same flag.
And we are all made by the same God.
And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.
The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.
We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.
The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.
And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.
I’ve started using lavender supplements before bed because of moments like this.