Today I told you why Rep. Bill Pascrell wasn’t going to be angling for an aisle seat and the chance to shake the President’s hand as he walked down the aisle after giving his first speech before a Joint Session of Congress tonight.
Did you see the small sea of white in the House chamber? That was House Democratic women, wearing the color of the women’s suffrage movement as a show of solidarity against a misogynist president whose inauguration was immediately followed by one of the biggest protests in American history. Immediately after Trump’s last words, the group – including Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman – got up as a unit and left, avoiding the brief facetime with a president Members of both parties usually jockey for.
White’s also the color associated with Hillary Clinton, who wore it to accept her nomination and, defiantly, at Trump’s inauguration. Melania Trump wore a black dress with sequins, and Ivanka Trump wore a red off-shoulder cocktail dress. I was wearing pajamas and watching the spectacle on the teevee.
There was much to be outraged by. Trump is way out of his depth speaking of fascism – on the prevention side of things. And then there was the emotional moment of the night. Trump paid tribute to decorated Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, killed in Yemen, as his crying wife looked heavenward. The tribute, by way of thundering and extended applause, was surely for the war widow. But there’s no doubt Trump basked in it too. Effective it was. But the operation that killed Owens and several dozen civilians was botched raid that turned into an hourlong firefight in which “everything went wrong.” Authorized by a president who skipped intelligence briefings during his transition (Owens was killed on Trump’s 8th day in office). You won’t find Owens’ father clapping for President Trump in the gallery next to Ivanka. Bill Owens, also a military vet, was upset at the insulting way Trump spoke of a Gold Star family Hillary Clinton brought to her convention. And now, a Gold Star parent himself, Owens wants answers about his son’s death.
Aggravating as Trump’s speech was, I mark it as his first real presidential moment. Trump’s had a disastrous first month. He’s shown himself as unstable, pretentious and immature. His tax return evasions raise big conflict of interest concerns. He’s surrounded himself with sulfurous racists. And spent 11 of his first 33 days vacationing. But he’s no longer dyeing his face; he looks less freakish now that he’s retuned to a more normal caucasian color with hair no longer lemon-hued. And after a month of truly stupid, undisciplined tweeting, this speech was delivered in the measured tone we expect of presidents (though no doubt at a lower reading level than any of Obama’s). Everything about the content of Trump’s words was fresh offense in policy terms, but Trump sounded and looked like man actually running shit. And that’s when things really get scary, people. Believe it.