President Donald Trump awarded controversial, conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom at his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Limbaugh announced he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer on his show, "The Rush Limbaugh Show," on Monday.
In his speech, Trump described Limbaugh as "a special man, beloved by millions of Americans." The president said while the commentators diagnosis was bad new, he praised Limbaugh as "the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet."
Limbaugh appeared shocked as the President announced his award. First lady Melania Trump presented the medal. According to CNN correspondent Maanu Raju said Republican lawmakers gave the awardee a standing ovation while Democratic lawmakers appeared quiet.
The Washington Post reported that Trump first made this announcement that he would award Limbaugh the awarded at an off the record two-hour lunch, and he claimed he only found out about Limbaugh's diagnosis yesterday. The president also said that he wanted the host to attend he speech. He also praised "Limbaugh's power."
“Our economy is stronger now than it’s ever been,” Alec Baldwin said, eagerly showing off his SNL Trump impression seconds after sitting down Wednesday morning to co-host The View following President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
No one was totally sold on Trump’s speech, including the sole conservative at the table, Meghan McCain, who said, “There were a lot of moments that seemed really produced to me. His TV background really came out, especially the reuniting of the [military] families, which I loved because I love things like that.” Noting that the speech got an 82-percent approval rating from independents, according to a CBS News poll, she added, “If it weren’t Trump, I probably would have loved it.”
“Even with the lying, though?” Joy Behar shot back.
McCain went on to say that she “didn’t notice” the lies, but one other moment stood out to her as a highlight.
“If you're someone on the right, you probably liked Rush Limbaugh, who is fighting cancer, getting that medal,” she said, referring to the Presidential Medal of Freedom that First Lady Melania Trump hung around the controversial radio host’s neck during the address.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday morning that she "shredded" the President's State of the Union speech Tuesday night because Trump "shredded the truth" in his address, according to one person in the room.
In a dramatic move captured on camera, Pelosi ripped up her copy of the President's speech after he concluded the annual address to Congress. Earlier in the night, the President appeared to snub the House Speaker by ignoring her attempt at a handshake.
Pelosi slammed the speech in the Democrats' closed-door caucus meeting, explaining why she tore it up afterward, according to multiple sources in the room.
Pelosi was fired up in the meeting, the sources said, and she told her members that the speech was "a disgrace" for having so many falsehoods in it.
"He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech," Pelosi said, according to one person in the room.
1. The Facts Are Strong The main reason the speech worked so well was not because President Trump’s delivery was masterful. In fact, a beautiful line early in the speech — “We have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny” — fell a bit flat in his telling.
The speech was well written and played to President Trump’s strengths as a showman, showing policy goals and successes through the gripping stories of real Americans who were present in the balcony. But ultimately the speech was good because the facts were so good.
The Constitution requires the president to “give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The facts regarding the current health of the United States are undeniably strong. The economy is doing so well that it’s a story that can be told from multiple angles, and the policy successes he bragged about were worth bragging about.
2. The Blue-Collar Boom While elites in Washington, D.C., continue to resist President Trump, he spoke around them to average Americans, who are experiencing what he called a “blue-collar boom.” Reminding Americans of past presidents’ “jobless recoveries, tired platitudes, and constant excuses for the depletion of American wealth, power, and prestige,” he instead focused on the results of his regulatory reform, tax cuts, and renegotiated trade agreements.
He cited new jobs, low unemployment rates, decreases in poverty, increases in the work force, increases in wages, the surprising improvement of the manufacturing sector, and more. He tied these successes to the robust stock market, new heights in consumer confidence, and pension performance.
3. Emphasizing Bipartisan Successes Part of Pelosi’s frustration with Trump is that he didn’t seem to even care that she had just led her caucus into a partisan impeachment of him. He will be acquitted today, perhaps in a bipartisan fashion, but it was an issue he didn’t even bother to address, much less dwell on. He seemed to give the impeachment issue as much seriousness as House Democrats did, which is to say not much.
Instead, he focused on what could be accomplished for Americans if the parties work together instead of in a constant state of Resistance. He noted that criminal justice reform and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement were done by everyone working together.
4. A Speech It Was Difficult to Ostentatiously Oppose Clearly Democrats had made an agreement to be hostile to President Trump. Many of them sat on their hands no matter the topic. In fact, one leader of the Democratic Party, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, announced her refusal to even show up to the speech.
As President Trump listed economic successes, going into granular detail about how the economy had helped minorities and women, Democrats’ refusal to clap looked odd. By the time people were refusing to clap for 100-year-old heroes such as Tuskegee Airman Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, the oppositional stance looked downright absurd.
These scenes and these Americans are some of what the opposition refused to show even polite applause for.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, distinguished herself not just by wearing blue, contra the white outfits a gaggle of Democratic women chose, but by clapping for things when she felt like it, such as for President Trump’s praise of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and for Sen. Tim Scott’s Opportunity Zones.
5. Opposition to Socialism In a move that angered some Democrats, President Trump highlighted his opposition to socialism. He lamented what socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro is doing to the people of Venezuela, and asserted that all Americans are united with the Venezuelans in their struggle for freedom. “Socialism destroys nations,” he said, “But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.” In a discussion about improving Americans’ health care, he said, “We will never let socialism destroy American health care.”
6. Overt Outreach to Black Americans President Trump highlighted how the booming economy is helping black Americans. He emphasized how criminal justice reform, a key issue for African Americans, gives former felons a new lease on life.
He highlighted the plight of Stephanie Davis, a single mother trying to get her daughter Janiyah into a better school through opportunity scholarships, putting an adorable face to school choice. He tied the marchers at Selma to the soldiers of Valley Forge. The American heroes he referenced included the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, and various black Americans in the balcony. And he talked about Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The president is not hiding his attempt to gain more support from black Americans, and the speech follows up on a powerful Superbowl ad highlighting his work on criminal justice reform. Republicans struggle to gain black votes, but Trump already outperformed John McCain and Mitt Romney with these voters in his 2016 bid, before the successes he touted last night.
As Democratic primary voters threaten to pick a nominee who does not excite black voters, the outreach could continue to reshape the Republican coalition. Democratic pundit Van Jones sounded the warning about the effectiveness of this strategy to his CNN audience: