What We’re Following
The State of the Union: On the surface, President Trump’s first official rendition of the annual address presented an optimistic vision of a unified America. Yet that image—as well as the president’s delivery—contrasted sharply with many listeners’ tumultuous experience over the past year. What’s more, the speech had an undercurrent of dark and violent imagery that recalled the “American carnage” of Trump’s inaugural address. Here’s a full transcript, and here’s our live blog of the highlights from the event. The key takeaways:
On Immigration: Trump outlined a four-point proposal that includes both a path to citizenship for people who entered the U.S. illegally as minors (a concession to progressives) and an end to the so-called chain-migration policy, which allows immigrants to sponsor extended-family members (a concession to hard-liners). Many congressional staffers say that plan is unlikely to lead to a deal—especially since Trump’s rhetoric may have undermined his key presidential task of persuasion.
On North Korea: In the 475 words the president spent on discussing the country’s “depraved regime,” he didn’t mention diplomacy. And shortly before the address, the administration withdrew its nomination of Victor Cha to be the ambassador to South Korea, after he expressed reservations about military strikes on the North. These could be signs that Trump is preparing for war. But the North Korean regime may not be as dangerous to Americans as Trump fears—and a military strike could have calamitous consequences.