No one wins when public policy becomes a juvenile joust
Much food for thought — and debate — was offered by President Donald Trump during his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.
Among other things, Trump discussed the strong economy, including achievements such as the lowest unemployment rate for African-Americans on record. Democrats pointed out he exaggerated some numbers.
National security and international relations got a few moments. So did immigration, along with other important topics such as health care.
And Trump, ever the showman, had plenty of heart-warming material. There was the 100-year-old veteran of the Tuskegee Airmen wearing brigadier general’s stars the president had presented him that day. There was the serviceman’s family — invited guests for the speech — surprised as he stepped down the aisle toward them. There was the precocious girl delighted by Trump’s announcement she will receive a scholarship to attend the private school of her choice. And there was the 2-year-old child, there with her mother, born so prematurely she hadn’t been expected to live.
Yet with all that — important statistics and human interest stories galore — what were many Americans talking about the day after the president’s speech?
Grade-school behavior by the president of the United States and the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
You know what happened: First, as Trump arrived on the podium, he ignored the hand Speaker Nancy Pelosi stretched out in an attempt to shake his. Then she broke with long-standing tradition on how to introduce a president about to give his State of the Union speech. For many years, speakers have used the phrase, “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States.” Pelosi cut that to, “Members of Congress, the president of the United States.”
Finally, after Trump had finished speaking, Pelosi, seat a few feet behind and above him, rose and made certain the television cameras caught her tearing up her copy of the president’s speech.
Rough-and-tumble politics is nothing new to Americans. Truth be told, some enjoy bare-knuckle campaigning — at the appropriate times.
But childish personal snubs such as those by Trump and Pelosi on Tuesday — and by any number of other politicians, both conservative and liberal — seem to be increasing.
Many Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents — may be wishing for an adult in the room.
No one wins when the very serious business of public policy becomes a juvenile joust that has more to do with personalities.
Come on, ladies and gentlemen. You all owe us better than this.