If this State of the Union address is even remotely memorable, it will be thanks to moments where Congresswomen completely stole the spotlight
The 2019 State of the Union address was to be the most tense address in the last few years. With Democrats now outnumbering Republicans in the House of Representatives, and president Trump recently caving after the longest Government Shutdown in history, we expected hell to break loose. But joke’s on us because for all of Trump’s fire and fury, this speech really did signify nothing, instead leaving room for Congresswomen to burst into the stage and completely steal Trump’s thunder.
Many of the Congresswomen dressed in suffragette white to raise awareness for gender equality, and sat together during the whole speech, thereby creating an image to behold: a House made up mostly of white men in black and blue suits, with a gigantic white spot right in its center. Within the House floor, one blue side gave standing ovations at Trump’s every fifth word, one white side remained mostly unmoved. One was subservient to Trump’s usual litany of misleading claims; the other, stoic. Guess which one was which.
At around 5,000 words, Trump surely had a lot to say but was understandably predictable, touching on some his greatest hits: from the so-called crisis at the border, to his successful trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, and China, to tensions with North Korea that he, only he, was able to diffuse. He even took advantage to lambast two ongoing investigations which appear to be nearing on him after his former key allies have either been indicted or arrested or both.
While Trump got his fare share of over-the-top applause from Republicans, Democrats and, from time to time, some of Congresswomen in white, perhaps its most pathetic moment came when Trump incorporated anti-abortion rhetoric into his speech for the first time. He urged Congress to pass a law forbidding late term abortions (still legal under Federal Law). What happened next was all too predictable, the formation of white suits, both Democratic and Republican, remained unmoved. Old white men in suits, on the other hand, gave a thunderous applause at the other man’s suggestion of outlawing a woman’s right over her body.
And yet, surprisingly, most of Congresswomen’s reactions will probably serve to ease some of the tension built around Trump. If this SOTU is even remotely memorable, it will be thanks to these three moments where Congresswomen completely stole the spotlight:
When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clapped at him after he said “end revenge politics”. You could hear the sarcasm miles away (thanks not least to the microphone which helped amplify the scorn directed at Trump).
When they zoomed in of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and, with a guests filling the House with insincere applause, she stayed her ground and looked indomitable AF. Flawless.
But perhaps no other moment was as great as when Trump claimed fifty-eight per cent of new jobs created in the past year and many of the Congresswomen (mostly Democrats who were elected in November) rose and began laughing amongst themselves. Trump, enjoying the eased tension, joked back at them: “Don’t sit yet. You’ll like this” and then went on to point out that this Congress, “his” Congress, had more women than any other in history. Applause ensued. Then followed cheering, laughing, and the culmination of the entire House happily chanting. “U-S-A!, U-S-A!, U-S-A!”.
He has a point. Perhaps this record number of women in Congress would not have been possible had he not stirred such a resistance. Maybe Trump might actually win from moments like this, in which tensions were raised and voices lowered, but all in all, women, once again, beat him at his own game.
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