When Donald Trump gives his first actual State of the Union address, what the
country really needs is a confessional, not fake news.
We need the president to come clean. Did he attempt to fire Special Counsel
Robert Mueller at the start of the Russia investigation last summer? The
president doesn’t deny it, and just says “fake news.”
But those who believe in the rule of law will require something more. Because as
more news organizations confirm that Trump’s attempt to fire Mueller was halted
by White House attorney Don McGahn, then we have a pathway to impeachment.
Was Trump’s intent to obstruct justice? What was Trump trying to hide by firing
the Special Counsel to end the investigation into Russia’s influence in the
Trump campaign? And what of the endless statements by Trump and his toadies that
there was no attempt to fire Mueller?
A State of the Union Confessional. #SOTUC. That’s what we need.
But why stop there?
With the American public watching, Trump could also come clean on DACA. Discard
the statement from a former Bannon lackey who has become the lead Trump
A pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented Dreamers in exchange for a
$25 billion Border Wall was the headline. But the plan strikes at the heart of
American immigration values.
Family values are supposed to matter to conservative immigration hardliners. But
this plan would end family visas for parents and siblings and restrict
immigration to spouses and children.
It’s the way many of our Asian American families have been built for
generations. In immigration terms, we don’t have family trees so much as a
strong family unit in the multi-generational homes we build in America.
But in these hateful and xenophobic times, “chain migration” is seen as the
The new plan also pushes the parents of Dreamers deeper into the shadows. When
Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents
(DAPA–the parent version of DACA) was blocked by the courts, undocumented
parents had no recourse.
In this new Trump deal, kids stay, parents go home. Can you hear Reality Show
Don say, “Goodbye?”
That’s the “rule of law” Trump believes in. His rules.
Maybe the State of the Union will give Trump a pathway to the truth.
But I doubt it.
That’s why it’s best if he just keeps it short. Short lies are better than long
Maybe he should just address us in his preferred mode.
Imagine a “State of the Union Tweet.”
#SOTUT would be short, not necessarily sweet, yet somewhat kingly– at least the
“tut” part. Very fitting for the “very stable genius” who is “like, really
THE SOTU ADDRESS I’D LIKE TO HEAR
Unfortunately, protocol and ego probably won’t allow Trump to skip his first
real State of the Union address. (Last year’s technically was just a speech
before the full Congress).
But if President Trump is honest on Tuesday (don’t hold your breath), he’d at
least say these words:
“The state of the union is chaotic because I am a president the likes of which
the world has never seen! I caused the shutdown. I promised to sign whatever
came before me, but I am not a man of my word. So sue me. My word is still worth
more than Stormy Daniels’ word, and my lawyers under a fake name paid her
$130,000 to shut up. Did she? How can you trust a porn star?
“So we had a shutdown, but thank goodness the shutdown didn’t cause the
cancellation of this speech. Because even when I gave last year’s speech, which
wasn’t really a SOTU, I knocked it out of the park. 47 million viewers! Higher
ratings than Obama!”
Fantasy? Then imagine Alec Baldwin playing DJT. There’s truth in satire.
Still, after the recent government shutdown, Trump in his first State of the
Union address has a special opportunity to show real leadership.
Trump should acknowledge that all our rancorous issues on border security and
DACA are fixable.
He could say something like, “It will only happen if we work together. It will
only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates. It will only happen
if we fix our politics.
“A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything….But democracy
does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we
think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our
political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a
willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen
only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most
extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the
average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in
favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.
“Too many Americans feel that way right now. It’s one of the few regrets of my
presidency–that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse
instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or
Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying
to be better so long as I hold this office.
“But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task– or any President’s–alone.
There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more
cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the
demands of getting elected. I know; you’ve told me. And if we want a better
politics, it’s not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a
President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.”
Trump could say that. If he stuck to the prompter.
But then he’d be plagiarizing President Obama, who said it first in his very
last State of the Union in 2016.
Trump could also say he understands diversity and say he’s inspired by “voices
that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or
Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or
Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King
believed would have the final word–voices of unarmed truth and unconditional
Why not? A few weeks ago, Trump talked about DACA being vital and his wanting to
sign a “bill of love.”
Wouldn’t it be great if Trump talked about love in his first State of the Union.
He could stop talking about the stock market rising, and focus instead of his
rising hopes for all of us, the American people to come together as one.
Maybe Trump could describe a vision of an ideal American: “Clear-eyed.
Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the
final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I
believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is
Once again, those are all Obama’s words in his last SOTU.
What a difference an administration makes.
are exactly what the country needs to hear on T uesday. Something to unite us
Sure, it would be great to hear that kind of rhetoric again: Hopeful, inclusive,
forward-looking. Not about the stock market’s rise. But a deep message about how
we as a nation are together as a people with a common purpose.
But that’s not what we’ll get from the Big Birther.
Because in these Trump times, division is a virtue and the state of the union is