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‘Choose greatness’: A soaring State of the Union scored with 76 percent, poll finds

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By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS — Addressing a deeply divided nation, reflecting upon a tumultuous two years in his own presidency, but seeking a break in the political storm clouds over Washington, Donald Trump called upon the equally divided U.S. Congress to “choose greatness” and embrace a “moment of unlimited potential” for the United States.

Speaking at the annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress, President Trump beseeched both his own Republicans and opposition Democrats to “govern not as two parties, but one nation.”

Trump added, “Victory is not winning for our Party, Victory is winning for our country.”

President Donald Trump before delivering the State of the Union address on Feb. 5. / Reuters

President Donald Trump before delivering the State of the Union address on Feb. 5. / Reuters

Trump’s speech was less about pedantic politics than governing in an age where political lines are rigidly drawn and opposition is fueled by a strident 24/7 news cycle on TV, radio and most importantly, social media.

He presented a measured but broad-brushed legislative wish list.

“Together, we can break decades of political stalemate,” the president extolled,  “We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction…I ask you to choose greatness.”

President Trump outlined key economic accomplishments of the past two years; record economic growth, the lowest unemployment in fifty years, and the creation of over five million new jobs, 600,000 in the manufacturing sector alone. Notably African-American and Hispanic-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.

These are notable accomplishments affecting all Americans and reviving what was a moribund economy.

On the contentions China trade issue he asserted, “We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.” Though the Administration pursues a tough tariff showdown with Beijing, the fact remains that despite all the political theatrics, the U.S. trade deficit with the People’s Republic of China rose again last year from $375 billion in 2017 to over $400 billion.

He underscored that the USA is now the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, which while economically significant, strategically too, this accomplishment lessens America’s long standing dependence on Middle East oil.

Just one year ago, war clouds shadowed the Korean Peninsula in the wake of North Korea’s missile testing and reckless nuclear threats to Japan and the USA. Now following the historic Singapore Summit between the U.S. President and the North Korean dictator, the nuclear problem has yet to be solved but the nuclear clock has stopped ticking.

Trump added, “As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean peninsula.” Notably North Korean nuclear tests and missile launches have stopped.
President Trump will meet Kim Jong-Un for a second Summit on Feb. 27-28 to pursue a long overdue peaceful solution.

Addressing the singular threat to freedom in South America, the president underscored U.S. support for the legitimate government in Venezuela and its interim president Juan Guaido.

He asserted, “We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom, and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.”

This gave President Trump a rhetorical segue for the penultimate part of his address, “here in the United States, we are alarmed by a new call to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence, not government coercion, domination and control.”

“We are born free, and we will stay free” he asserted.

Probably the most contentious part of the address dealt with the “urgent national crisis” of illegal immigration into the U.S. “Now is the time for the Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business,” he said.

The President stressed, “Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. We want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.” He added, “Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate, it is cruel.” Indeed the USA has accepted more legal immigrants than any other country in the world.

At times the address reached a Reaganesque tone and pitch. Fully 76 percent of CBS network poll viewers agreed with the President’s speech.

Contrary to his pedantic and gloomy Inauguration address two years ago, the State of the Union Soared and brought Americans to a polemical plateau from where they could view a positive
future IF both political parties choose to work together.

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]

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