The US President Trump delivered a rather solemn speech on the state of the Union, praising the country’s economic performance but continuing to target immigration.
His teams had announced a unity speech. And Donald Trump almost put the forms, bending to the solemnity of the exercise, for his second State of the Union speech on Tuesday night in front of the Congress in Washington. “The program I’m going to present tonight is neither Republican nor Democrat. It’s the American people’s, “he declared at the opening of his address broadcasted live on television, following the scrolling text on the teleprompters quite faithfully and sent to the journalists at the beginning of the speech.
This session of self-congratulation and celebration of the greatness of America (“We represent the most extraordinary nation in history,” he modestly concluded), 80 minutes long and punctuated with superlatives and applause, once again reminded the meaning of the spectacle of the American political world. Donald Trump paid tribute to many personalities – survivor of the slaughter of the Pittsburgh synagogue at the end of October, American soldiers of the Second World War, little girl fighting cancer or families whose loved one was killed by an illegal immigrant – invited to attend the speech and allowing the President to embody his agenda.
“A sudden desire for unity”
The main announcement was the formalization of a new summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on February 27-28 in Vietnam, eight months after the first historic meeting between the two men in Singapore. Donald Trump welcomed the progress made by his administration, saying that if he had not been elected president, the United States would be “now in a major war with North Korea”.
“It looks like every year the President wakes up on the day of the State of the Union speech with a sudden urge for unity,” before the speech, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer. “The other 364 days of the year, the president spends his time divide us.” But despite its unifying accents, this speech has especially given a new opportunity to Trump to celebrate his favorite themes, cleavants for the more than 500 elected of Congress, even within his own camp. Caravans of Central Americans arriving at the doors of America, declared will to roll back the right to abortion, fight against socialism (“America will never be a socialist country”), withdrawal of American troops from Syria and Afghanistan (the Senate, with a majority Republican, approved Monday evening by a very large majority an amendment criticizing this decision) …
“Ridiculous Partisan Inquiries”
“The world wants our economy,” he said at the beginning of his speech, stressing the country’s low unemployment and robust growth. Before going on: “We are witnessing an economic miracle in the United States, that only absurd wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations can stop,” he said. If we want peace and make laws, there can not be war and investigations. “Acrobatic and unexpected allusion to the investigations into the links between Moscow and his campaign team for the 2016 presidential election that poison his mandate, the one being led by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the other by a congressional committee.
The tradition of this presidential address for elected officials goes back to the foundations of American democracy. The Constitution requires the President to regularly “give the Congress information about the state of the Union”. But this speech was of particular importance. It was delivered in front of a divided Congress, the mid-term elections having allowed Democrats to regain a majority in the House of Representatives. The President could not miss, in front of him in the room, the numerous elected Democrats, dressed in white in tribute to the centenary of the movement of the suffragettes. Neither the Speaker of the House, the Democrat Nancy Pelosi, sitting in the tribune just behind him during the entire speech, who has just inflicted a stinging political defeat.
Ten days to find a compromise
Because this speech comes after weeks of strong tensions between Trump and Congress for the financing of the wall on the border with Mexico. Donald Trump’s campaign promise to fight illegal immigration, this wall had triggered the longest “shutdown” in history (35 days), a partial blockage of federal services depriving more than 800,000 employees of salary. The US president finally gave in to his political opponents and suspended the shutdown on January 25, without securing a penny for his wall.
Congress has only ten days left to find a compromise on the subject, and Donald Trump did not seek appeasement on Tuesday night. On the contrary, he renewed his calls for the construction of a “strategic and sensible steel barrier – not just a concrete wall. The walls work and the walls save lives. ” He did not finally, as he had hinted, declare during this speech a “national emergency”, an exceptional procedure that would allow him to bypass the Congress. But while the elected Democrats are up against this project, Trump has once again said that the wall on the border with Mexico would be “built.” Promising fierce political battles for the coming months.