Hours before President Donald Trump delivered a remarkably eloquent State of the Union address, stressing national unity and bipartisan cooperation, he made an on-the-record comment in an interview with a media anchor that was very telling. Excerpts of that interview have been released by the White House, though the interviewer was not named.
The interviewer’s question was a good one:
“Mr. President, is there — what would you say you’ve learned in your first year as president? And is there something, specifically, you think you want to try differently — some approach?”
The president reply was compelling:
“I’ve really learned a lot … When you’re a businessperson, you don’t have to worry about your heart, the heart. You really do what’s best for you — you know, for almost purely monetary reasons. You know, you make your money. You’re competing against people. In many cases, you don’t like them, you want to beat [them]… I have some of the greatest assets in the world. I’ve built a great company….
“In doing what I’m doing now, a lot of it is heart, a lot of it is compassion, a lot of it is far beyond money — such as immigration … If I was doing this purely from an economic standpoint, I would sit down and tell you in one second what I’d be doing, okay? It’s so simple.
“But I’m not. I’m doing it because millions of people are affected. I mean, I just — I put myself in their position. Millions and millions of people are affected…
“So having a business background and a successful business background is great, but oftentimes you do things that you would never do in business, because you have to also govern with heart.
“I’m telling you, the immigration is so easy to solve if it was purely a business matter, but it’s not. And I think that’s something that I’ve learned maybe more than anything else. You have to — you govern with all the instincts of a businessperson, but you have to add much more heart and soul into your decisions than you would ever have even thought of before.”
The president’s lengthy State of the Union address — he spoke for some 80 minutes — was studded with true tales of American heroes in times of trouble and tragedy, and he hailed the exemplars themselves, who were in the gallery and thanked them by name.
As past presidents have done, he proudly touted his administration’s achievements, both at home and abroad, but made certain to balance this with unabashed praise for the American people.
It is hardly surprising, however, that the Democrats and the mainstream media — which has long abandoned any effort to disguise its bias — were not impressed. Well before the president started speaking, they had already made up their minds. It didn’t matter what he said or how he said it; in their minds all that counted was who was saying it.
The Democrats seated in the House chamber were described as “looking on with stony expressions” on their faces. Most did not join the standing ovations or even applaud when the president spoke of the dramatic upturn in the economy. One commentator wondered, “Aren’t they happy that there are more jobs, that people have it better than they did?”
It could have been worse. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi deserves credit for reining in the more obstreperous Democrats. When President Trump’s comments on immigration elicited boos from her people, she signaled them to stop. She also joined in at applause moments and the chant of “U-S-A, U-S-A.” Rep. Pelosi reportedly told fellow Democrats earlier in the day not to stage a walkout. “If you want to walk out, don’t come,” she was quoted as saying. Indeed, 12 Democrats did not come.
It would be unfortunate if the Democrats turn aside the hand the president has extended to them. There is room for compromise, on immigration and on other issues. President Trump put forth his plan for “a pathway to citizenship” for immigrants who came to this country as children.
Regarding chain immigration, there is further room for compromise: Rather than limiting it to spouses and minor children only, it could be broadened to include relatives such as parents and grown children as well.
The president’s call for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure renewal program and his pledge to fix “the injustice of high [prescription] drug prices” won him ovations. These are certainly areas in which both parties can work together. The health and wellbeing of millions of Americans depend on it.
Carping critics notwithstanding, the speech was excellent. A CNN/SSRS snap poll showed that fully 70 percent of the people who watched the State of the Union address reacted to it either “positively” or “very positively.”
They liked the president’s message that “tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans.”
The American people want them to take that hand.