The television images were worth several thousand words. As President Trump delivered his State of the Union Address, chock full of good news and optimism, there sat U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calf., looking like she’d bitten into a lemon.
Within camera view were other Democratic leaders and the Congressional Black Caucus with the same dour look minus the pucker.
It was a stunning contrast to the other side of the aisle where hope and optimism were reflected in the expressions and demeanor of Republican members and leaders.
What made the visual images of the State of the Union Address so compelling were the moments where the Democrats couldn’t seem to put their hands together.
It’s easy to understand that it’s tough to be the minority party at a State of the Union speech. You’re required to watch and listen as your political opponents enjoy the spotlight and tumultuous applause of most of official Washington, D.C.
You can't expect the minority party to stand and cheer every word the president utters. But shouldn’t we all be able to witness the unity of our nation over things like references to our great Capitol, "In God We Trust," standing for the national anthem or even news that our economy is producing millions of new jobs.
It’s hard to imagine why the Congressional Black Caucus couldn’t, at least, "politely applaud" the fact that unemployment, and African American and Hispanic unemployment in particular, are at all time lows.
What more than 45 million Americans witnessed on Tuesday night was a Washington, D.C. elite group of Democratic "leaders" continuing to project their only message — resistance to Donald J. Trump.
There’s one big problem for those Democrats. They are disconnected from much of their traditional base. To be sure there are those among them cheering glum demeanors and dark words. But many rank and file Democrats are either put off or simply mystified by such displays.
Across the Rust Belt, where Donald Trump’s "inside straight" won him the presidency, are working Democrats cheering news that their pay checks are bigger this week. They understand and approve regulatory reforms eliminating job crushing over-regulation. And they don’t view $50 a week more in take-home pay or a $1,000 bonus as "crumbs."
These folks were moved to tears and applause by the litany of stories President Trump shared this past Tuesday night. They connect with Corey Adams, the Ohio welder who’s going to use his extra money from tax cuts for his two daughters’ education. They feel the pain of the parents of Nina Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, two teenagers murdered by (Mara Salvatrucha) MS-13 gang members.
They are moved by the sight of baby Hope adopted by an Albuquerque police officer and his wife from a homeless mother with an opioid addiction. They stand and cheer when Ji Seong-ho waves the crutches on which he escaped the torture of North Koreans.
Their disconnect with what they saw from their purported leaders in Congress is an emerging story. Some Democrats have already figured out that the far-left "resistance" of Rep. Pelosi and her allies isn’t working politically. In the special election being held here in Pennsylvania next month, the Democratic candidate is running on a pledge not to vote for Pelosi should he get to Congress.
Elsewhere Democratic consultants are cringing over the thought of pictures of Nancy Pelosi at the State of the Union being juxtaposed next to their candidates in this fall’s pivotal midterm elections.
Before November of 2016 the media chattered incessantly about what the Republican Party would look like if Donald Trump lost. Their sometimes joyful predications about a badly fractured party with no message to put things together can now be applied to the national Democrats.
Their fractures were on full display in the post speech responses. The "official" response featured Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., delivering a somewhat angry lecture on income inequality.
There were several others, ranging from further left to extreme far left. For the second straight year, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., eschewed the official response to deliver his own message of a new socialism. Then again, Sen. Sanders isn’t really a Democrat — or is he?
None of their rhetoric is the stuff which connects with those Democrats and Independents they need to reach.
Working-class folks understand what it takes to create more jobs, produce bigger paychecks and allow them to keep more of what they earn. They instinctively understand that when their budget gets bigger and government’s gets smaller that they're better off. They’re patriotic and optimistic. They’re hopeful and trying hard to create a future for their kids that’s better than the life they’ve enjoyed.
They applaud "In God We Trust," stand for the national anthem and are delighted to take a few "crumbs" in the form of a bigger paycheck or a better job.
They want to be part of "A New American Moment." They’re among the 75 percent who approved of President Trump’s State of the Union Address.
Charlie Gerow is a political analyst for Harrisburg, Pa.'s CBS affiliate, appearing weekly on its Sunday morning show, "Face the State," which is syndicated statewide. He serves as the first vice chair on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union. He is the CEO of Quantum Communications, a strategic communications and issue advocacy firm. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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