Donald Trump State of the Union address 2020: 5 takeaways from a very divisive speech
Trump did his best to show America is thriving under his statesmanship but the ugly visuals of him snubbing Nancy Pelosi and she tearing off the speech copy conveyed a different message.
President Donald Trump delivered his third State of the Union (SOTU) address in the House Chamber on Tuesday, February 4. A day after "winning the Iowa Caucuses", the incumbent battling an impeachment trial, touched on several points in his speech that filled him with pride. The president, who was addressing the nation in an election year, made the SOTU unique for a number of reasons. He made efforts to project himself as a statesman who cared about the common man’s welfare and honoured those who he thought had served the nation’s cause. He even welcomed a foreign leader on the occasion to display America’s clout on the international stage. However, despite these feel-good moves, Trump could not hide the undercurrent of a polarized polity.
Here are five top takeaways from Trump’s SOTU speech 2020
Sour relations with Nancy Pelosi become evident once again
As Trump walked up to the podium to deliver his speech he handed over a copy of his speech each to Vice-President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who sat behind him, the Democrat reached out to shake hands with the president, but Trump turned his back on her, leaving Pelosi a bit baffled. Earlier in the day Pelosi confirmed that she has not spoken to Trump since their infamous confrontation in the White House last October after the president pulled US troops out from Syria. The White House later released a picture of her standing up and pointing at Trump in the presence of other officials and both political sides later interpreted it to suit their own narrative. The relationship between the two political heavyweights has soured over the past few months as Pelosi has been pursuing Trump’s impeachment.
Pelosi also remained in her seat, along with other Democrats as Republicans gave standing ovations to the president as he read out the speech. One of the exceptions was when she stood up was when Trump spoke about passing the criminal justice reform. But the 79-year-old California lawmaker waited for her revenge till the end. As soon as Trump concluded his speech and the lawmakers applauded him, Pelosi stood and ripped up the copy of the speech that was with her.
The Juan Guaido episode:
Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido was present at the SOTU speech and Trump even welcomed him as the “true and legitimate president of Venezuela”. Venezuela has been of prime focus of the Trump administration in Latin America. As President Nicolas Maduro continues to thwart the West and cling to power, Venezuela has become the epicenter of an international power struggle. The country in fact is witnessing a presidential crisis with supporters of both Guaido and Maduro claiming each to be the oil-producing nation’s real commander-in-chief.
"Please take this message back: That all Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul,” Trump told Guaido as the latter acknowledged the audience’s standing ovation.
Trump also spoke on Cuba and uttered the word “hemisphere” implying that the US is working towards making the Western Hemisphere one of freedom.
Guaido’s presence will certainly annoy Maduro and his supporters who will see it as an assault on their country’s sovereignty, but when Trump slammed Maduro as an “illegitimate ruler” and vowed to smash his grip on the nation before welcoming Guaido, the House saw itself unified -- a rare occurrence otherwise.
Honoring Rush Limbaugh:
Trump rushed Limbaugh’s felicitation. He had said on Monday during a private launch with television anchors about his plan to honor the conservative commentator with the Medal of Freedom, but he was quick to make it a reality during the SOTU speech. Limbaugh recently revealed that he was at an advanced stage of cancer. First Lady Melania Trump awarded him the medal, the country’s highest civilian award, as the 69-year-old Republican supporter looked emotional.
“Here tonight is a special man, someone beloved by millions of Americans who just received a Stage 4 advanced cancer diagnosis. This is not good news, but what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet,” Trump said in his speech, thanking the radio host for his “decades of tireless devotion to our country”.
The Democrats present on the occasion were not impressed and shouted “no”.
Trump’s celebrates diversity:
The third SOTU speech of President Trump witnessed a number of special guests being felicitated. From a military officer reunited with his family and a girl getting a scholarship to study in the school of her choice to an eighth-grader great grandson of a renowned former airman who aspires to go to space, Trump’s speech showcased America’s diversity and merit and celebrated it on the SOTU stage.
A divided SOTU was visible:
Amid Trump’s feel-good announcements, the Democrats still displayed their dissatisfaction. When Trump alleged that some people were trying to destroy healthcare, his opponents shouted “you”! The Dems were also heard laughing when the president said he was taking on big pharmaceutical companies. Some leaders including ‘Squad’ members Ilhan Omar and Rashid Tlaib chanted “HR3” and gestured three, suggesting the Democratic healthcare bill to reduce the drug prices.
A senior Democratic lawmaker -- Bill Pascrell of New Jersey -- later tweeted saying he walked out of the address early because he could not stand “a liar”. “This man’s presidency is a national tragedy,” he said in his tweet. The scene of one side of the aisle standing up to celebrate Trump's speech, while the other remained seated spoke volumes about a divided America that Trump leads into an election year.