Last night President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address to Congress. Writing at The American Conservative, Robert W. Merry (editor of The American Conservative and author of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century) called the speech “impressive,” and outlined some good, and some bad. Best of all, as Merry writes, the speech “smashed political orthodoxy.” He continues (abridged):
Trump’s first State of the Union was neither Republican or Democrat, fresh on immigration and disturbing on foreign policy.
The president blasted through the partisan fault lines of the recent past to present a vision of America that was neither Democratic nor Republican.
Trump projected a strong sense of American idealism and unabashedly invoked hearty sentiments of patriotism.
Trump touted his approach as a “down-the-middle compromise” in which “no one gets all they want.
Beyond that, while Trump’s address contained plenty of basic Republican proposals and boasts—his conservative judicial nominations, his assault on federal regulations, his tax legislation, his initiatives to increase accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs, his efforts to reverse the country’s industrial decline—he also smashed a number of GOP icons.
He made clear, for example, that he has no intention of retreating from his ongoing assault on the Republican shibboleth of free trade, which he views as harmful to American business and prosperity. “The era of economic surrender is totally over,” he declared,
Perhaps the most intriguing—some might say most disturbing—element of Trump’s speech was his passage on American foreign policy. He said nothing throughout the address that squared with his campaign rhetoric decrying America’s promiscuous foreign policy adventurism of the past quarter century.
Instead, he called for an aggressive foreign policy aimed at rogue regimes, terrorist organizations, and the nations he identified as America’s central rivals, China and Russia.
As for ongoing tensions with North Korea, clearly the most fearsome challenge facing America at this time, he vowed to apply “maximum pressure” based on “total American resolve.
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