President Trump gave his first State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, January 30th, 2o18, addressing the country’s accomplishments within the past year as well as stating his goals for 2018. His main talking points were immigration, energy and the nation’s economy.
He spoke, when he was not being applauded, for over an hour and a half which makes it one of the longest State of the Union speeches in history. Throughout his address many House Democrats refrained from standing and applauding. On some occasions, they even booed Trump.
Mr. Trump broke another record during the duration of his address. The Daily Caller reported that “he generated 115 rounds of applause.” While it did not put him on top in this category, he was not far off from former president Bill Clinton’s record of producing 128 applause interruptions in his 2000 SOTU address.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) made a fashion statement by wearing black clothing with a traditional Ghanaian Kente stole in protest of the speech. The African garment was also worn to show solidarity with those affected by Trump’s “s***hole countries” comment made earlier this month in a private Oval Office meeting. In addition to coordinated outfits the CBC and democrats also wore red pins with the name “Recy” in honor of Recy Taylor, an African-American woman who spoke out against a group of white men who raped her in the 1940s. This showed solidarity with the #MeToo movement to end sexual harassment in the workplace.
Trump spent a significant amount of time noting the country’s economic accomplishments since his inauguration last January, such as record-low unemployment rates among minority groups. Trump also indirectly addressed the national anthem controversy. He said, “…those who have served our nation remind us of why we salute our flag, why we put our hands over our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”
Many news organizations, such as The New York Times, NBC News, and The Washington Post, were quick to release a fact-checking transcript of the speech. Many of the accomplishments he took credit for were trends that actually started during the Obama administration.
In a fact-checking article released by The New York Times shortly after the speech concluded, it was discovered that Trump falsely claimed that the visa lottery is, “a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit or the safety of our people.” NYT reporter Ron Nixon discovered the fallacy in the statement, referring to an official government document. Nixon wrote, “An 18-page guide from the State Department says applicants must have a high school education or two years of work experience in the past five years that requires ‘two years of training or experience.” In addition to educational experience, it calls for physical tests and records. It says, “The applicant must undergo a medical exam and cannot have a criminal record. Visa winners are then subjected to a lengthy background check that can last for months.”
Some of the spotlight was on First Lady Melania Trump as she entered by herself, sitting separately from her family and the vice president’s family. She had on a cream-colored pantsuit which could hold significance considering many female House members wore white last year in protest of Trump’s “locker room” comments.
Trump acknowledged many people from Congressman Steve Scalise, one of the victims of the Congressional baseball shooting in June 2017, to Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert who was one of the first responders in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.
CBS reported that, as expected after SOTU addresses, Trump’s approval rating rose 75 percent following the speech.
Written by Almaz Abedje
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