On this stage, Trump not the only attraction

House Democratic women, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), middle, are dressed in white for President Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
House Democratic women, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), middle, are dressed in white for President Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. TNS

The State of the Union address has always been little more than political theater. But Tuesday night was special, because this year Congress added costumes.

Democratic women (and a few men) elected to the House of Representatives this year decided to wear white. It was a nod to the suffragists of a century ago, who chose white as their color while parading for the right to vote – which they won in 1920. It made a fine symbol, standing in stark contrast to the mostly blue and black suits worn by the men. And Nancy Pelosi, the only woman to serve as Speaker of the House, rocked her white suit right behind President Donald Trump.

Even Trump seemed impressed, cheering the election of so many women to Congress.

Naturally, not everyone approved. Some of the president’s more ardent supporters likened the women to the Ku Klux Klan. Perhaps that’s just the first thing they think of when seeing people in white clothes.

The speech? Long, but not exceptional – a call for bipartisanship in one sentence, then deeply partisan rhetoric a few words later. The State of the Union has always been an opportunity for the chief executive to brag while prepping Congress for the “big ask.” In this case, Trump wants the House to forget all about all those investigations into his administration.

What others had to say:

(San Jose) The Mercury News – The state of the union is falling apart. Our highways, bridges, airports, dams and other infrastructure need an estimated $4.5 trillion investment over the next five years. That number will only get worse unless President Donald Trump gets serious about committing enough federal money to meaningfully address the problem. ... Trump called for unity to push America forward. But thus far it’s been hard to take Trump seriously on this issue. ... (B)ecause the president clings to a fantasy that state and local governments will pay most of the bill.

New York Daily News – Donald Trump stood before Congress and urged the nation to unify: “Victory is not winning for our party,” he said. “Victory is winning for our country.” With a straight face, he added: “We must reject the politics of revenge.” He failed to admit that from the moment he took office, he has used his bully pulpit to scorch the earth ... (and) has sabotaged nearly every opportunity to reach meaningful consensus. ... Trump didn’t singlehandedly divide America. But a President’s job is to close wounds, not aggravate them. If he wants to do that, he must become a different man. Starting today.

Newsday – America didn’t need to hear from President Trump to understand the state of the union. It’s uneasy, and will be for awhile. ... You didn’t have to be in the room to see – and even feel – the tension. Trump stands at a vexing crossroads. His popularity is sinking after the disastrous federal government shutdown he engineered. Nearly twice as many people say the nation is worse off, not better, than a year ago. ... Given Trump’s history of partisan attacks, it was no surprise Democrats often sat in silence.

Los Angeles Times – President Donald Trump came to Capitol Hill as a pitchman for bipartisan comity, but couldn’t bring himself to really make the sale. ... ... This speech won’t be remembered for the praise Trump lavished on his administration but for his call for “all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.” The president needs to answer his own summons.