January 31, 2018

Was Trump's SOTU theme "nationalism"? Was it devoid of values?

Every weekday morning I listen to the NYT podcast, "The Daily," which goes up around 5 a.m., so it's usually there when I'm making my first cup of coffee. They don't give us a transcript, so if I want to blog about it, which I almost always do, I'd have to find the point in the recording and transcribe it myself or simply go on my memory of what I believe I heard. The first approach is workable when there's one specific line I want to talk about, but not when I want to convey the whole theme of the show, what the podcasters are trying to tell us, and whether they've really supported that position.

The State of the Union Address is the topic of today's show, and like the State of the Union, the whole thing washes over you and you're left with various feelings and impressions, and it's virtually impossible — without the transcript or careful relistening — to remember exactly what they said and what you contributed as you absorbed all that. But that's life. That's what it means to be human, and if we weren't human, the speech and the entire subject matter of the speech would not exist.

So I'm going to tell you what I believe I heard in the NYT podcast this morning. I think the host Michael Barbaro and his guest Mark Landler (a NYT White House correspondent) said that Trump's SOTU address was deliberately written to minimize Trump and put the spotlight on individual Americans (and one North Korean) who acted heroically, displayed feisty entrepreneurship, or suffered tragically. Trump, the divider, removed himself from the center of things, and filled the screen with vivid stories of people, heightening the effect by repeatedly talking about the importance of individuals. Though Trump didn't talk that much about what government can or should do, the stories created support for things Trump does want to do, because they generate, on a deep emotional level, the sense that foreigners are evil and dangerous. The speech was thus profoundly "nationalist." Trump's idea of America is a crude us-versus-them vision, with no other content, no values.

This is what I feel they were saying, as they expressed what they purportedly felt about what Trump said. Please listen to the podcast and see if you agree. Offer corrections or alternative interpretations. It's a great podcast, carefully composed, and full of audio clips from Trump's speech, so the argument is elegantly developed. There is even music which is, I think, designed to massage your thought processes. At one point, the music is obtrusive, but perhaps where I was annoyed and distracted, a Trump-o-phobic person might have felt powerfully moved because the music would feel like their own heartbeat.

Let me make a few points:

1. Barbaro/Landler seemed critical of Trump's minimizing himself, as if that's a tricky device, but Trump — who is so often denounced as narcissistic — should get at least some credit for performing the absence of narcissism.

2. Individualism is a value, and the whole speech was expressive of the value of individualism. But it was a show-don't-tell statement. The word "individualism" never appeared, and "individual" only came up in a reference to the Obamacare "individual mandate." (You can check the transcript.)

3. Freedom is a value. Trump spoke of it in connection with our kinship with freedom-loving people in foreign countries: We "stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom," and we love Ji Seong-ho who "traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom" and "is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom." Freedom is a universal value that we share with good people all over the world and that "gave birth to a special place called America."

4. Self-government is a value. The "yearning... to live in freedom" led to "a revolutionary idea: that [Americans] could rule themselves." By instituting a system of self-government, Americans "light up the world."

123 comments:

Roger Sweeny said...

Oh, my God. Jonathan Haidt would recognize this. It was devoid of what I consider values. And if it doesn't have what I consider values, it doesn't have values.

rhhardin said...

Everything's aimed at women.

A mansplaining SOTU would be a welcome change.

How would the NYT deal with that.

rhhardin said...

Derrida shows how to put values in without fronting emotion.

It's known as giving a good reading of the situation.

Social lit crit.

Some are good readers, some are not. Some of the latter can appreciate a good reading, which is the value of mansplaining.

traditionalguy said...

So being a near perfect leader of a band of brothers using a good heart and acting with total courage is just a trick.

NYC folks are stuck on stupid.

David Begley said...

Trump said the word “we” 129 times last night. With Obama it was always about him.

Trump gave a great speech and the NYT is unhappy.

Picture in your mind’s eye Hillary’s SOTU. It would have been all about identity politics and the crisis of global climate change.

Earnest Prole said...

Trump highlighted a wide range of American values in his speech. What's fascinating is that a third of his concerns were traditionally Democratic -- things no Republican has ever before mentioned in a SOTU speech -- but Democratic elites and the media (but I repeat myself) literally cannot hear them because of their hatred for the man.

wild chicken said...

Yeah but he has the vision thing.

Tim in Vermont said...

Right, none of their values. That’s what they hate, they can’t accept that they lost. You can see that this is the theme of most of the Trump hate. They don’t share Trump’s values, or the values of the voters who elected him, and see those values as not legitimate.

Meanwhile, President Lightbender, who refused to compromise in any way with the duly elected Congress at the time, has his pen and phone presidency undone brick by brick:

Just minutes before entering the House chamber for his first State of the Union address to the nation, President Trump signed an executive order reversing President Obama´s decision to close Guantanamo Bay Prison.

Defending Americans is a value too.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Is nationalism necessarily bad? It seems to come down to whether it's okay to be proud to be an American. The Democrats have now painted themselves into a corner with their declarations that our country is deeply flawed, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, just an endless parade of victims and we should be ashamed of ourselves, but it would be heartless not to let anyone who wants to come here, come here.... I think the "Americans are dreamers, too" too line is going to continue to resonate. I'm expecting Trump to tweet variations of this soon and either completely take "dreamers" away from the Democrats or nullify the term.

Tim in Vermont said...

Speaking of Jonathon Haidt, I will repeat my favorite quote of his, because it sums up the podcast perfectly:

“Reject first! Ask rhetorical questions later.” - Jonathon Haidt

traditionalguy said...

8:00 AM and no tweets yet. General Kelly must have Trump under guard. Pence will soon demand proof of life.

David Begley said...

What’s wrong with the President of the United States in putting the United States first?

United States Congressman Luis Gutierrez left the House Chamber when the crowd chanted “USA, USA.”

Bay Area Guy said...

"Was Trump's SOTU theme "nationalism"?"

The term "Nationalism" has a bad connotation, since it is associated with the Nazis.

But if one tweaks the label to mean "the opposite of globalism", then Yes, is much more of a nationalist, than a globalist.

John Kerry was a globalist.

buwaya said...

You are both right about Haidt.
There is a terrible problem of parochialism on that side.
Which denies, as a point of identity, that they are parochial.

The podcast seems a continuation of the general argument Trump started in 2015. Same general reaction.

It seems to me also that Trump, in his speeches, rarely is self referential. Last night was not new that way.

Bob Boyd said...

@ Ernest Prole said...
"What's fascinating is that a third of his concerns were traditionally Democratic"


That is exactly the reaction I had.
When did Democrats become the party of sneering condescension towards the working class and middle class?

Sebastian said...

NYT groupthink: a nationalist speech contains no values.

Cuz the nation, as the object of love, the focus of solidarity, and the embodiment of what we hold dear, could not possibly be a value.

It's the one value progs truly despise.

Derek Kite said...

It was a remarkable framing. Trump physically moved the center of gravity out of that town. That room was described as a place where Americans gathered.

The tax cuts were described as a pay raise for american workers.

Americans built that. African american unemployment lowest in history.

That image of the Democrats scowling when the economic good news was described is going to be used as a bludgeon.

Derek Kite said...

Country Club Democrats.

Bay Area Guy said...

If you generally oppose open borders, the Paris Climate Accords, most trade deals, and anything remotely related to the UN, the EU, The Hague, and the IMF, then you are probably a nationalist.

America First - not America only.

Bob Boyd said...

"because they generate, on a deep emotional level, the sense that foreigners are evil and dangerous."

Like those meddling Russians?

Tim in Vermont said...

Well we have been assured by Democrats that flipping hamburgers at Arby’s or selling clip-on ties at JC Penney’s is as good as Americans can hope for, while Republicans are pushing good union jobs in manufacturing and energy extraction.

It’s kind of strange that Democrats have abandoned that issue in hopes of importing enough poor people to ensure that they will always be needed. What I don’t get is why the Black Caucus goes along with it.

rhhardin said...

You can do everything Trump wants without being proud to be an American.

It's cart before the horse.

Not being pround but not unproud either.

traditionalguy said...

Seeing Nationalism as a lack of values is the give away. The European world rulers have never seen the capture the heart of their North American territory by force of arms by a bunch of Presbyterians to be a legitimate Nation. And they want it all back. So they have had their made man Soros use hundreds of billions of dollars of their loot to finance a resistance here aimed at the Ethnic Cleansing of White people, who are the ones who always step up to fight them to keep this Real Estate.

Obama was their inside fifth Columnist. Now Trump is the Real estate guy whom we picked to lead our counter attack. His only sin has been beating them like Jackson did at the Battle of New Orleans and Polk did at the Mexican War and at the 54/40 or fight near War for the Oregon territory.

gspencer said...

The speech's point - not what it revealed about Trump, but what it revealed about Democrats. More and more we see them as anti-Americanism.

rhhardin said...

Disparaging the foreign is a womanish way to say make deals that benefit us as well as the other guy, instead of just the other guy.

It's apparently too difficult to explain that disagreement is what makes deals possible in the first place, where both come out ahead. It does not guarantee a deal is possible, but it's what makes the possible deals possible.

robother said...

"What I don’t get is why the Black Caucus goes along with it."
I keep thinking that Trump may represent the greatest threat to the Democrat stranglehold on the Black vote. Whether its the 2 Black couples who lost their daughters to MS13, or the stony faced silence of the Black Caucus in the face of his celebrating the lowest Black unemployment ever, those with eyes to see might begin to realize the depth of betrayal.

Big Mike said...

First of all, Professor, I want to thank you for listening both to the State of the Union address and to the podcast. It’s been a while since I bothered to watch a State of the Union address, and apparently I missed a good one.

Trump’s values are not the same as the values of the New York Times. This is not news.

After sleeping on it, I awoke this morning with a thought that I see others have independently reached. The targets for last night’s speech included independents and moderates in both parties, but especially the sort of people who’ve voted for Democrats all their lives but are feeling that their party’s been captured by extremists who don’t much care about their concerns. As Reagan famously put it, the party left them. Of course Donald Trump knows how to appeal to Democrats like that — he’s one of them. We’ve had a crying need for socially moderate but fiscally conservative policies for decades now. And Trump is delivering.

I can picture Nancy Pelosi saturating her Depends last night. She stick the knife in her own party and Trump is twisting it.

iowan2 said...

Morning Schmoe has moved on from the SOTU to comparing President Trump to Nixon. Hard to continue to trash a speech the 75% of Americans found uplifting, and Anti Trumpers admitted to having witnessed a great speech.

Bob Boyd said...

The President didn't shake his finger at us...which was nice.

David Begley said...

I submit this SOTU will be a major turning point for Trump.

Tom said...

Business leaders tend to talk about “we” as they build teamwork, unity, and work toward common purpose.

Almost anyone who said “I” constantly in the modern workplace would have that impact their career as not being team oriented or all about themselves.

Also, people tend to say “I” when the feel inferior, such as when talking with a boss. If you read manager emails, they rarely say “I” as they feel no need to appear more important.

Trump still speaks like a business leader.

The democrats sought to lose the midterms last night - they simply cannot support success that isn’t government provided. Sad.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

If you appreciate freedom and liberty - you cannot be a democrat.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

If you look down your nose at everyone, assuming everyone is a racist, you might be a democrat.

MadisonMan said...

When did Democrats become the party of sneering condescension towards the working class and middle class?

When DWS and Hillary started leading it.

How many working/middle class Democrats reside in Pelosi's district? Look at the leaders -- they are all members of the Elite; that tells you all you need to know about the Democratic Party.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

If you like your leaders to use the words "I" and "Me" over and over, you might be a democrat.

Tim in Vermont said...

When did Democrats become the party of sneering condescension towards the working class and middle class?

“Drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park...”

Hagar said...

The President didn't shake his finger at us...which was nice.

But he certainly gave Barack Obama and all he stood for the middle finger.
The promise to re-stock Guantanamo was pure gold!

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

The MSM pro-democrat hack networks thought the speech was sad and gloomy they are offended that Trump used the word "we" so much.

rehajm said...

Socialism is a tough sell when everyone’s standard of living is improving.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tcrosse said...

The Market seems to have approved.

rehajm said...

The Kennedy rebuttal could not have been more out of place. This is not who we are? You mean successful?

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Trump’s North Korean Defector: The Harrowing Full Story


Ji Seong-ho escaped Hillarywoodland, Michael Moore, Meryl Streep, Sean Penn, Nancy Pelosi, and Cory Booker's leftwing paradise.


Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

The collective left are obsessed with CEO pay.

Tim in Vermont said...

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said Trump used “ugly” fear-mongering on immigration, religion and patriotism to “divide.” Booker said,

Booker should read some Dale Carnegie on “persuasion” if he isn’t going to read Scott Adams. First off, to be persuasive, you have to appear persuadable, otherwise people just discount your words. Second, the bad stuff you say about other people sticks to you more than them, generally. People hear the nastiness, and associate it with the speaker. How to Win Friends and Influence People is maybe a read that Democrats need right now.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Tempt Hillary with millions, and a personal IT guy will set up a private server.

Kristian Holvoet said...

Trump, the divider, removed himself from the center of things, and filled the screen with vivid stories of people, heightening the effect by repeatedly talking about the importance of individuals.

A refreshing change from President Me/I and First Lady '"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country '

Tim in Vermont said...

Socialism is a tough sell when everyone’s standard of living is improving.

That’s why the Democrats want to eliminate borders. Except for Norwegians, or people who once lived under communism, because, they are unreliable.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Kennedy. A family who cannot function without a government job and a government paycheck.

Rusty said...


"What I don’t get is why the Black Caucus goes along with it."

Because they're getting rich off of it.

"Trump still speaks like a business leader."

I respectfully disagree. He speaks like a leader.

Honor is also a value.

Elliott A said...

American values are simple and he nailed every one of them. In God We Trust sits in the chamber to remind everyone that no person or group of persons is our master. That is the reminder kids get every day in school with the Pledge, that men and women have risked their lives every day of the nation's existence to keep us safe and free. Most people never think about the Founders. Had the revolution failed, these successful and capable people who loved their families would have been strung up by the British in an immense gallows and hung. The Korean gentleman in the gallery is a wonderful example of what it means to live without freedom. These NYT folks are divorced from reality as well as a lot of the Congressional minority.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Season 2 of Trump! Is off to rousing start.

Tim in Vermont said...

people tend to say “I” when the feel inferior, such as when talking with a boss.

Never thought about that, but its true! Making excuses always starts with “I” too.

Francisco D said...

When a Republican is POTUS, the game is to pile on with DNC/MSM talking points to drive down his approval and give the Dems a better chance at the next elections.

Remember Reagan and the Bushes. If not for the Gulf wars, that would be 18 years of the resistance going after Republican Presidents.

They hate Trump because he fights back.

Derek Kite said...

>I submit this SOTU will be a major turning point for Trump

It's the economy stupid, to quote someone.

The last few cycles have shown the political ground moving, reorganizing. Obama recognized it, but responded with 70's style progressivism, missing the moment. Clinton and the Republican field thought they had a finger on things, but didn't, or couldn't quite step off of the rocks that were breaking up or shifting.

Trump wrote down, very carefully and clearly, the new political center last night. Everyone in that room commutes past evidence of despair and economic hopelessness. Trump moved the power center from that room into those communities, highlighting the glimmers of hope and dynamism that once characterized the US economy.

The speech was full of dog whistles to working people. He actually challenged that town to be of service to Americans. What a novel idea.

Tim in Vermont said...

Kennedys, A family who cannot function without a government job and a government paycheck.

Not since the bootlegger who built their fortune, anyways.

Drago said...

rehajm l: "Socialism is a tough sell when everyone’s standard of living is improving."

Which is why the left and their liberal and LLR allies repackaged marxist class-based rhetoric to attack capitalistic oppression arguments with identity/privilege-based rhetoric to attack capitalism.

The lefties and their LLR allies have now abandoned any and all pretext as they openly call for replacement of american voters with 3rd world socialists thru open borders, destruction of our language and thought control with their Maoist PC speech and self-crit demands, and, as we saw with those hollywood idiots, a complete restructuring of our governing systems and society in order to create the Final Leftist Utopia and New Sovi...er..New American Citizen.

Which is why it was just a hop skip and a jump for the lefties and LLR to weaponize the govt against us.

They truly believed in 2008 they forever ascendent so all the masks dropped.

Drago said...

And we saw that completely exposed last night.

Completely.

Nice set of allies you've picked Vichy Chuck.

Tim in Vermont said...

It’s the economy stupid, to quote someone.

Same guy who later said “Drag a hundred dollar bill though a trailer park,” oddly enough. See how the Clintons corrupt everything they touch?

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

The leftwing collective wrote their disdain over Trump's speech before he gave it.

See: the college students who hated Trump's speech last week, a week before the actual speech.

Amadeus 48 said...

Collectivists have got to be collective. Death to egotistical individualists! Get in your assigned group and stay there!

Tim in Vermont said...

Collectivists have got to be collective. Death to egotistical individualists! Get in your assigned group and stay there!

Right, fascism, communism, same deal. Only one individual allowed, the Supreme Leader, Castro, Stalin, Mao, whoever rises to the top.

Darkisland said...

rhhardin said...

It's apparently too difficult to explain that disagreement is what makes deals possible in the first place, where both come out ahead.

I think you and I had this conversation the other day and I quoted Marx's mistaken idea about this. Marx's basic failure to see this is what makes socialism impossible. Socialism cannot work, never has worked and never will work because of this. (If it was someone else, apologies all around)

I'd not seen it expressed like this but I really like it and will steal it from you. If I can remember in the future I will attribute it to you but I will probably forget.

I gave the example of exchanging $1.99 for a tube of toothpaste. I think the tube is worth more than $1.99. Walgreens "disagrees" and thinks it is worth less than $1.99.

It is only that disagreement that makes the transaction possible.

Thank you RH.

John Henry

bagoh20 said...

Let's imagine that Trump actually gave an Obama speech word for word. Do you think the NYT would have anything positive to say about it? That's the extent of the deep thinking there, and there is no escaping the overpowering pull of anti-Trump gravity.

MaxedOutMama said...

I will try to listen to the podcast today, because Ann thinks it is worthwhile. But having seen what little political/pundit reaction I have, my first reaction is that what keeps happening is that the battle lines of 2015 keep being redrawn more clearly.

I think that is a terrible political mistake for the opposition. It is true that Trump is much more like an old-fashioned Democrat than a modern neocon, and that means that the more the Dems reject Trump and try to paint him as extreme, the further they are distancing themselves from from their own historical center and base. This is fatal.

Further, in last night's speech Trump tried to give them an out. They had to applaud the people he was bringing forward - and the vast majority of them did - and that gives them a chance to leave the reflexive opposition and return to fight for the center. Trump is literally trying to get them to do that. He apparently thinks it is important for the country.

Last night Trump did not say ONE BAD WORD ABOUT THE DEMS. Not one. He warned in every way possible against an ingrown politics of the elite. This ought to be ground on which Democratic politicians can function.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Darkisland said...

I gave the example of exchanging $1.99 for a tube of toothpaste. I think the tube is worth more than $1.99. Walgreens "disagrees" and thinks it is worth less than $1.99.

Don't worry, France is preparing to determine for everyone what a jar of Nutella is worth.

chuck said...

> "because they generate, on a deep emotional level, the sense that foreigners are evil and dangerous."

That certainly describes how I feel about the NY Times. We should give them twelve years to become Americans, then ship them off to North Korea if they fail.

wildswan said...

I thought it was a great speech last night. It wasn't as much fun as his speeches at rallies but I think it was as carefully designed. The Democrats decided to come and sit in dignified silence while Trump made a rally speech. Their orders were no booing etc., trying to make Trump look loud and crude, giving a rally speech inside the Capitol. But Trump is very fast on these things and he gave a different kind of speech, one which made sitting in silence look like taking a knee during the national anthem. For instance, Trump talks about good economic news for Americans, more money in their pockets. Dems sit stony faced. So Dems hate the idea of Americans having more money? If they get their way there won't be any more bonuses? And so it went. No wonder Nancy Pelosi looked as if she was sucking on a lemon. And Chuck Schumer with his head pulled down toward his hunched shoulders, twisted sideways, peering up - he looked like an old turtle peering out from under a log, wondering if it's safe to crawl over toward the water. Well, it wasn't very safe last night for the delusions of the Democrats.

That's what made that podcast difficult to interpret. In its leadoff summary, the podcast definitely suggested that Trump was promoting "nationalism", by which the NYT means Nazism. I think that was the chosen theme before Trump ever spoke. I think podpeople expected a rally speech which they wanted to play up as a Nuremberg rally speech. But because Trump spoke softly and made his points by telling stories of human struggles the podcasters were reduced to saying that these stories instilled fear of foreigners. That isn't so, that isn't what people listening really felt. These stories made you feel admiration for people who had been courageous or anger at tyrants, terrorists and gang members - people as indifferent as storms and fires to the human suffering they cause. The podders seemed annoyed that Trump had made it hard to attack him.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

chuck said...

That certainly describes how I feel about the NY Times. We should give them twelve years to become Americans, then ship them off to North Korea if they fail.

I have no love for the North Korean regime. But the people there have suffered enough.

Tim in Vermont said...

Don’t worry, France is preparing to determine for everyone what

I was in Paris once and tried to get a cab to take me to a certain train station, and he said that he wouldn’t do it because the fare the government allowed him to charge for the trip didn’t pay him enough. I just gave him a tip up front, and he did it.

Same thing happened in Barbados.

Kevin said...

Ann, I read a report this morning that Trump used the pronoun "we" 45 times in his SOTU speech last night. There is no doubt in my mind that the bigger narcissist of our last two Presidents is Obama (a messianic narcissist). I would be great to do a montage contrasting an Obama SOTU speech and Trump's last night contrasting the number of times Obama said "i" and how many times Trump said 'we".

bagoh20 said...

How good would the actual results have to be for those on the left to say Trump did good for Americans? An incredible unprecedented period of prosperity will pass them by without that admission ever coming. They will fight tooth and nail to convince us we are actually miserable as we fly above their dead rotting ideology, just as the world has done since Marx wrote it down.

Darkisland said...

Tom said...
Business leaders tend to talk about “we” as they build teamwork, unity, and work toward common purpose.

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
There is no I in our team
And now there is no you

(Recommended text for layoff notice. Keep it light)

John Henry

Amadeus 48 said...

One strange sight was Luis "Little Rooster" Gutierrez bolting from the chamber when some enthusiastic attendees began chanting "U.S.A.!" He must choke when he takes the oath of office.

Here is some of the good work he has done in Puerto Rico (from Wikipedia):
"Gutierrez was ultimately successful: in May 2003, the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility on Vieques Island was closed; and in May 2004, the U.S. Navy's last remaining base on Puerto Rico, the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station - which employed 1,000 local contractors and contributed $300 million to the local economy - was closed."

By the way, Gutierrez was born and lived in Chicago until he went to high school in Puerto Rico and couldn't speak Spanish when he moved there. That accent is put on.

Original Mike said...

Don Surber: “Democrats have nothing. They stand for equal pay (the law since 1963). Civil rights (1964). Gun control (1968). Abortion on demand (1973). Why not call for the end to Prohibition (1933)?”

MaxedOutMama said...

rhhardin @ 7:36 You can do everything Trump wants without being proud to be an American.

That's objectively true, but Trump is clearly and consistently trying to form an American identity politics versus the group politics/tribalism based on victimhood that has arisen over the last twenty years, and has been carefully cultivated as a way of sustaining political power.

I don't think the US can function as a collection of angry tribes. It seems to me that nationalism can be a remarkably good way to form a collective of various groups cooperating to protect and preserve the common welfare - i.e. a way to transcend our natural tribalism. In Europe today the word is used as a shorthand for tribalism, but in the history of the United States it has stood for exactly the opposite process.

Angel-Dyne said...

Without having listened to either the speech or the podcast:

#3 sounds horribly Bush-ian. Gives me the willies. "Freedom" in the traditional American sense is not a "universal value". It's a value and a priority to some cultures, and not others. I understand SOTUs are inherently heavy on the schmaltz, but enough with the neocon horseshit, Mr. President.

...because they generate, on a deep emotional level, the sense that foreigners are evil and dangerous. The speech was thus profoundly "nationalist." Trump's idea of America is a crude us-versus-them vision, with no other content, no values.

I'm inclined to accept your interpretation because that's more or less what they always say. You could talk about the weather with these people and they'd start going all swivel-eyed about your "nationalism" and "xenophobia" and "othering".

Goothinkers (left and right) have destroyed their own intellects with their own crude us-vs-them paranoia about "nationalism". (Us=panglossian globalists, them=ordinary human beings who like their native cultures and national identities, which makes them all "xenophobes" and closet Nazis to "us".) "Nationalism" is just another form of human organization, and like every other form of human organization (including all forms of internationalism), it has both benign and destructive manifestations.

Kevin said...

As long as the Dems continue to be reflexively anti-Trump, he can paint them any color he chooses.

JB71-AZ said...

MaxedOutMama - "I don't think the US can function as a collection of angry tribes."

The continued function of the US is pretty much the last thing the people wanting us Balkanized are worried about. They're worried about immediate political power - and pitting tribe against tribe is the way they can get that, if the right tribes are chosen.

The Dems have gone all-out for illegal aliens, and try to play the bigot card when anyone objects. But the more they do it, the more people see it's a bad-smelling crock of bovine fecal material - and they're not buying it any more.

Darkisland said...


MaxedOutMama said...

Last night Trump did not say ONE BAD WORD ABOUT THE DEMS. Not one.

President Trump has spent his entire life selling. One of the big rules of selling is never badmouth the competition.

I learned this the first year I was selling. I had quoted a new capping machine to a client (@$75m). Our lead time was about 16 weeks. Another company quoted a similar machine but 12 week delivery. There were 2-3 other quotes as well. When the told me company X was getting the order, I told the plant manager something like "I am am sorry to lose the order but at least I lost it to someone good. Company X makes a very good machine."

Two weeks later he called me in and handed me a PO. I forget what happened but company X had screwed up somehow and the PM had cancelled the order. He told me that one of the reasons I was getting the order was because I had been a gentleman and had not badmouthed X.

I have never forgotten that and, more than 30 years later my approach is always "Well, they are really good, but we are better". Never, "why are you buying that piece of crap?"

I always explain why we are better, of course.

John Henry

holdfast said...

This speech was very carefully crafted to divide (i) the Democrat Party leadership in DC, NY and SF from (ii) any remaining Democrats who still live in the middle of the country or who still love the country.

It was thematically pretty conservative, but not GOP partisan conservative - rather appealing to things that used to be considered near-universal Americsn values, but which have lately been rejected by the Dem leadership in their lurch to the Left. Unfortunately for the Dem leadership, many working and middle class Dems didn’t have time to read the memos, and so they mistakenly believe that those things are still good.

Hagar said...

Trump's speech was Sherman marching through Georgia with bands playing and pennants flying.

Trump may not actually be a Republican, but he certainly is showing them how to fight.

Hagar said...

For the first time since 1930.

LilyBart said...

Apparently the ACLU is complaining that Trump used the word "American" more than 80 times in his American State of the Union Speech.

The left has become ragingly anti-American.

FIDO said...

'It's only money.’

‘Yes, but it’s only my money, not only your money,’ Nanny pointed out.

‘We witches have always held everything in common, you know that,’ said Granny.

‘Well, yes,’said Nanny, and once again cut to the heart of the sociopolitical debate. ‘It’s easy to hold everything in common when no one’s got anything.'


Nanny Ogg Maskerade Terry Pratchett.

Professional lady said...

Just got my paycheck. The net amount is greater than the last one. I don't really need the extra money, but it makes me happy. Wonder what my husband's net will be. Just think of the families where the extra money will be enough for a week or two of groceries or enough to pay a utility bill. Nice concrete follow-up to the SOTU.

FIDO said...

I have to wonder

What part of free speech is bad?

Why is it inappropriate to ask if someone trying to enter the nation is good for said nation?

Why is God suddenly evil? Which of the 7 non-God Ten Commandments do the Democrats disagree with so strenuously?

What is bad with people owning guns? Actually, I know this one. Where Pelosi lives, people use guns to rob her. Where she doesn't live, people use guns for fun, food, and to protect themselves from Democratic voters.

The Left is REALLY painting themselves into a corner here. I think that 'Blue Wave' just got spent into something lapping around one's toes.

Michael K said...

It was a long speech but he had to get all those facts that have been jgnored by the MSM.

Webgrandma said...

It had a much more populist tone than nationalist, I'd say.

Hunter said...

A lot of people mentioning how Trump isn't the "I/me/my" president. I was wondering if this is just perception, so I ran the numbers based on the transcript from each year.

The difference really is there! And you can tell how prickly Obama was feeling in 2010, after a year of trying to push the ACA through.

Etienne said...

I didn't hear any message about reducing our WMD by 50%.

Imperialism is still cool...

bgates said...

Apparently the ACLU is complaining that Trump used the word "American" more than 80 times

I'd say that ought to be "the CLU" but it's clear they don't have one of those either.

JML said...

wildswan, there was nothing dignified about the Dems silence.

rhhardin said...

Thank you RH.

You're welcome. Longer exposition with maybe phrases you can use

http://ecomnemonics.blogspot.com/2012/12/wealth-comes-from-disagreement.html


Kevin said...

Trump's SOTU and the Dem's response was the rhetorical equivalent of the grade school playground game "stop hitting yourself".

Hunter said...

Obama also used "we" more often. Trump's addresses from last year and this year used "we" 95 and 103 times, respectively. Obama averaged 119.

Three of Obama's SOTU addresses included more than 140 "we"s.

Now I'm curious what other words could be compared.

Rick Turley said...

"There is no I in our team
And now there is no you"

I pissed off a high school coach by noting that there is a "me" in there.

Tim in Vermont said...

The goal of this speech appears to be to force the normalization of Trump on the terms of the bygone era his supporters are nostalgic for.” Joy Reid on Twitter

Of course, one could read her tweet as meaning that it’s an era that she and other liberals fervently wish would go away. But Inga would come along and say “She never said that!”

Makes you wonder why some people even read a blog that’s about examining statements with and eye toward acknowledging a couple of truths, “It’s turtles all the way down” and everybody thinks “All of the assholes are on the other side.” But that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Unclebiffy said...

I have given up listening to Media interpretations of political speeches. Maybe in the distant past these discussions were given in good faith but not so much today. Color me unsurprised that NPR would review the speech and hear a "Nationalist" theme. I cannot recall listening to NPR and hearing a discussion of Nationalism as a positive theme.

Smilin' Jack said...

...it's virtually impossible — without the transcript or careful relistening — to remember exactly what they said and what you contributed as you absorbed all that.

So I'm going to tell you what I believe I heard in the NYT podcast this morning.
This is what I feel they were saying, as they expressed what they purportedly felt about what Trump said. Please listen to the podcast and see if you agree. Offer corrections or alternative interpretations. It's a great podcast, carefully composed, and full of audio clips from Trump's speech, so the argument is elegantly developed....


You just can't remember what it was.

But that's life. That's what it means to be human...

No, that's not life, that's the stupidity of podcasts. People should learn to read and write.

PJ said...

Hunter -- I agree that President Obama gets a bad rap for not saying "we" enough. Even if you count only the times he said, "That's not who we are," it had to be more than 10,000. Narcissism aside, I could make a case he said "we" too much and too transparently.

Karen said...

I’m guessing that most of the time is that Obama used we it was in the context of “that’s not who we are“.

hstad said...

AA, I lived in NYC for over 10 years and loved to read the NY Times back in the '70s, but then, I was going to college and as I entered the business world my focus for news expanded to the Wall Street Journal and other business type publications. Today, I get most of my daily feed from the Internet.

I find it odd that AA admits to this, "....Every weekday morning I listen to the NYT podcast, "The Daily," ? Must be a liberal thing to get your marching orders from this now discredited news organ, which acts more like a tabloid than a discriminator of quality news.

SGT Ted said...

It's all a part of the effort to equate a citizen who loves the USA as a special and unique place as the same type of nationalism that is associated with Nazis and that Trumps is a Nazi because he uses these terms.

Fuck these people and those who think like them. They are un-American.

Angel-Dyne said...

TiV quotes Joy Reid tweet: The goal of this speech appears to be to force the normalization of Trump on the terms of the bygone era his supporters are nostalgic for.”

Nice example of someone drowning in her own duckspeak. Force normalization on the terms of the bygone era? What does that even mean? (Are the terms being forced, or are they abetting the forcing? Whatever the case, someting rapey is going on, and Trump and/or the deplorables are implicated.) Perhaps if I were more credentialed, I, too, could understand RSW (Received Standard Wordsalad).

(Best stab at de-coding: she couldn't tell you what exactly is so awful about the world the deplorables want, or what felicities our nation will attain if only the great juggernaut of shitholization can once again rumble on. So we have to intuit the deep truth she holds from juju words like "nostalgia" - and, of course, indignant grunts of "racist! sexist! xenophobe!".)

Achilles said...

There were values alright. The NYT and democrats just hate them. List of things democrats hate:

Church: Yes

Police: Check

Military: Mutual

Family: with a burning passion

National Anthem and the country generally: Why the democrats are going to get absolutely wiped out in 2018.

n.n said...

Two moral axioms: individual dignity and intrinsic value.

One Nature-instituted fitness function. To paraphrase: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth." A myth (speech, thought, story, anything delivered by word of mouth) with teeth.

A clear corollary: men and women are equal in rights and complementary in nature.

The self-evident observation that resources (e.g. geography) are finitely available and accessible in a limited frame of reference.

Go forth and reconcile.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...
Kennedy. A family who cannot function without a government job and a government paycheck.


1/31/18, 8:01 AM

Oh, I don't think they need the paycheck. They just can't live without power over the lives of others though.

Hunter said...

@PJ said...

On the contrary, I'd theorize Obama says "we" so much because he's a collectivist. When Obama says "we" he's envisioning the country as a great mass of humanity that can be steered deliberately toward a more noble future. I don't think it is the same thing Trump means when he says "we."

Yancey Ward said...

Trump aimed squarely at the center of the electorate with the speech, and he hit it bigly. His was a speech I can't imagine another Republican of today making, but Reagan could make such speeches in his day effectively. People think the country is polarized politically, but here is the basic fact- a sizeable plurality of Americans are not partisans or even particularly all that interested in politics at all. Trump spoke to those people last night, the Democrats, whose post-SOTU speeches I read this morning, didn't do that.

And how is a Kennedy allowed to to give a speech in front of an automobile in a town called "Fall River"? Whoever set that event up had to be a Republican.

eddie willers said...

The first "analysis" I read last night was from The Hollywood Reporter. It's headline:

Critic's Notebook: Trump Delivers Lengthy, Jingoistic State of the Union Address to Divided Nation

Adams is correct about the "two movies".

Sal said...

It was only a few weeks ago that Trump was suffering from dementia.

Hunter said...

Another word analysis. Obama's eight addresses contain the word "American" or "Americans" an average of 40.25 times each. The peak was 55 times in 2012.

Trump's 2017 address and 2018 SOTU contain those words 48 and 58 times, respectively.

So Obama stresses himself and the collective "we" more than Trump; while Trump stresses the people more than Obama. Of course, Trump is considered a populist. But he is also called an egomaniac. There is little sign of egomania in this (albeit small and silly) metric.

exiledonmainstreet said...

bagoh20 said...
How good would the actual results have to be for those on the left to say Trump did good for Americans? An incredible unprecedented period of prosperity will pass them by without that admission ever coming. They will fight tooth and nail to convince us we are actually miserable as we fly above their dead rotting ideology, just as the world has done since Marx wrote it down."

They did the same in the 1980's. According to the media, America consisted of a small group of greedy Wall Street yuppies and the rest of us, who were pushing grocery carts filled with empty soda cans down the street. Ron and Nancy aka Marie Antoinette frittered away money on fancy china and red designer outfits and astrologers while Americans lived in their cars.

And in the real world, Reagan won in a landslide. In 1981, I was working two crappy part time jobs. By 1988, I was able to buy my first place, a condo, while I was still in my 20s.

Jay Elink said...

Etienne said...
I didn't hear any message about reducing our WMD by 50%.

Imperialism is still cool..

***************************

We don't have any biological or chemical weapons.

Our nuclear weapons stockpiles have been steadily reduced under the two Bushes, the Clinton and the Obama administration.

The reductions slowed under that notoriously imperialistic POTUS, Barack Obama:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/27/science/nuclear-weapons-obama-united-states.html

Many factors are involved, but one reason we're not reducing at a faster rate is the Start Treaty:

"Moscow...has rejected cuts beyond modest ones it agreed to in the New Start treaty, which was signed in 2010 and observed beginning in 2011."

If you want us to unilaterally disarm, well, that would make you just another polyanna-ish prog, deluding yourself into thinking the rest of the world ---the Russkis, the Chinese, the Iranians, the NORKs---would follow suit.

Jim at said...

The left showed their ass last night. For all to see.

Keep it up.

Seeing Red said...

said that Trump's SOTU address was deliberately written to minimize Trump and put the spotlight on individual Americans (and one North Korean) who acted heroically, displayed feisty entrepreneurship, or suffered tragically.



I don't know if it was refreshing to have a President talk about "we" and "you" or sad I couldn't go to Drudge and read the "I" count since Barry loved to talk about himself.

PJ said...

@Hunter: When Obama says "we" he's envisioning the country as a great mass of humanity that can be steered deliberately toward a more noble future.

I agree with that. My case that he used the word too often would involve pointing out the presumptuousness of that vision, and my case that he used it too transparently would point to his failure to induce sufficient numbers of "we" to embrace that vision.

Roy Lofquist said...

The tension between the collective and the individual has been with us always. The formal articulation of the concepts is found in ancient Greece - to wit, Plato and Aristotle.

Plato, in The Republic, envisioned a three tiered society. There were to be the workers, the guardians, and the philosopher kings. His intellectual heirs include St. Augustine, Rousseau (French Revolution) and Karl Marx. Platonists usually figure they'd get to be one of the kings.

Aristotle, on the other hand, was the original individualist. "We hold these truths to be self evident.."

There's more of course, but far beyond my ability to expound. Therefore I whole heartedly recommend that you read "The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization".

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003EY7JG2/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

From Booklist:

"Herman (How the Scots Invented the Modern World, 2002) boils Western philosophy and culture down to two competing notions: the idealism of Plato and the empiricism of Aristotle. Plato, says Herman, asks, “How do you want your world to be?”; Aristotle, on the other hand, asks, “How do you fit into the world that already exists?” Walking through two and a half millennia of Western thought, Herman emphasizes that the two philosophies—the material and the spiritual aspects of existence—have repeated themselves through Western history, waxing and waning and remaining in tension with each other to the present day. Romanticism? Poetry? Totalitarian dogmatism? That’s Plato. The U.S. Constitution? The Manhattan Project? Modern consumer culture? That’s Aristotle. If it sounds like a sweeping polemic, that’s because it is; Herman seems to revel in overbroad claims, particularly when he’s talking about modern phenomena. Beneath all the broad assertions and polemic showiness, however, lies a serious argument for the primacy of Plato and Aristotle and the essential dynamism of a culture that embraces both philosophies."

Michael in ArchDen said...

Whenever I hear to old cliche, "There's no 'I' in 'team'", I like to respond with "But you make up for it by putting 2 'I's in 'incentives'"

William Chadwick said...

Etienne wrote:

"I didn't hear any message about reducing our WMD by 50%.
Imperialism is still cool.."

So which countries do you think Trump is planning to annex?

DavidD said...

Commenting before I read any of the other comments....

1. “Narcissistic” Trump gets criticized by the NYT for not being narcisstic enough. Sheesh. Some people just can’t catch a break.

2. Individualism, freedom, and self-government are not traits the NYT values, ergo they are not values.

becauseIdbefired said...

"Trump does want to do, because they generate, on a deep emotional level, the sense that foreigners are evil and dangerous."

Is it a question that some are? If OBL had a "wipe out the US, no consequences button," would he have pushed it? I think so. Would Japan have pushed it? Would Hitler have pushed it? Not so sure about Saddam, who I think may have been mistaken.

The concept of integration and inter-dependence is nice, but what if the other guy has superior control over his people, such as in NK or China? The Evil Satan can be the fall guy, as in NK.

We do have enemies, which is completely natural. We should not give up our deterrent strength, nor should we abuse it as in Libya, perhaps Iraq.

The US, I think, is unique in all the history of all the world. At the end of WWII, we had the bomb, we had the armies, and we could have taken the world over. Instead, we freed the world, and rebuilt it, which every American should be eternally proud for, given so many of us died.

While we should be proud, we should be mindful of our enemies, and circumspect when we decide to trade those values for something "bigger," but fundamentally "weaker." Even if it is "fair" according to some academics.