The Atlantic

Trump’s Call for Unity Was Never Going to Be Real

In a long and sometimes strange State of the Union address, the president exalted bipartisanship—without displaying a strategy, or a will, for achieving it.
Source: Doug Mills / The New York Times via AP

President Donald Trump embraced contradiction in his second State of the Union address Tuesday night, offering a rhetorical olive branch to his political opponents while also standing strong on some of his most controversial policies.

In a long and sometimes strange speech—punctuated by a spontaneous outbreak of song and occasional chants of “U.S.A.!”—Trump acknowledged the newly claimed Democratic control of the U.S. House and called for “cooperation, compromise, and the common good.” Yet the president also gave no indication that he would compromise on his demand for billions of dollars for a wall on the Mexican border; delivered a strong riposte to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has called that project “immoral”; and lashed out at investigations into his administration, claiming that they imperil American prosperity. The result was a speech that exalted bipartisanship without displaying a strategy, or even an appetite, for achieving it.

The tension in the president’s message was made of refusing to call the Democratic Party by its name.

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