I am willing to admit it: I usually watch presidents of the United States deliver State of the Union speeches.
It’s an annual event and this year I’ll be home the evening of Feb. 5 when Donald Trump will deliver his speech to a joint session of Congress. He will tell them — no doubt about it! — that the “state of the Union is strong!”
He’ll likely get as much laughter as applause, if that’s what he says.
The president was supposed to deliver the SOTU on Tuesday. Then he messed up by shutting down the government. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is empowered to invite the president into the House of Representatives chamber for these speeches, pulled the invitation back. Open the government, Mr. President, before delivering the speech.
Trump at first looked for an alternate venue. Then he announced he was “proud” to reopen the part of the government he had shuttered.
Those of us who look at matters reasonably and somewhat dispassionately can understand the obvious: The state of our Union is in terrible condition. Six weeks ago, the president could have declared that the nation’s economic condition was good; now it’s teetering just a bit.
As for the political state of our Union, it is as divided as it was when Trump took office more than two years ago. He vowed to be a unifying president. He hasn’t made the grade. He has vowed to get Mexico to build The Wall. Now he’s trying to foist the cost of the monstrosity on you and me.
There’s always the back story that plays out at these speeches. Lawmakers from the president’s party will cheer the head of state; those who serve under the other party banner will sit on their hands. It happens no matter who is delivering the speech.
This speech will attract particular attention to that phenomenon simply because the president happens to be Donald John Trump.
I’ll make this clear: I do not expect to smile and nod at much — if anything! — of what comes from the president’s mouth.
However, I’ll be watching with keen interest.