Zero Sum Game Is Played <br>By the Democratic Party <br>In Wake of Trump Speech
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
At least one thing is clear after President Trump’s first State of the Union speech. If the idea was to reach across the aisle for bipartisanship, the Democrats are having none of it.
The evening may have featured a vow by Mr. Trump to extend an “open hand.” The overarching aim of the Democrats is holding out for control of the House — and then impeachment.
Never mind that Mr. Trump had a lot to talk about — a booming stock market, historic tax reform, quickening growth, jobs and profits coming home.
Even before the president spoke, Democrats were sending sullen signals. Congresswoman Judy Chu of California reportedly refused to stand when Mr. Trump entered. She sat reading a newspaper.
The Democrats seemed to resent the guests that were seated near the First Lady. They included, among many, an Air Force enlisted woman who emerged a hero of the Houston flood, a convert to Christianity who’d made an epic escape from North Korea, and four broken-hearted parents of two Long Island teenage girls slain by members of an illegal-immigrant gang.
“Three hundred and twenty million hearts are right now breaking for you,” the president looked up and told them. “We love you.”
Yet Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin called the speech “entirely lacking in empathy.”
Not to be outdone, the New York Times headlined a column by Roger Cohen “Trump’s Volk und Vaterland.” That phrase nowadays evokes a German nationalism that smacks of the Nazi era.
One might think that it would’ve occurred to at least someone in the Democratic Party to respond constructively to Trump’s “open hand.” Even if only, “Hey, happy to talk.”
That thought, though, seems not to have occurred to the Democrats responding to Trump’s speech. Elizabeth Guzman of Maryland, who gave the Spanish language response to Mr. Trump’s speech, declared, “We should not accept or normalize the insulting and atrocious way this president represents our communities.”
Nor did Senator Bernie Sanders suggest engaging with Mr. Trump over, say, the Dreamers — or, for that matter, the $1.5 trillion in infrastructure projects Mr. Trump wants. Instead, he painted the president as an untrustworthy man of broken promises.
Nor did the main Democratic responder, Representative Joseph Kennedy, grandson of RFK. His remarks will rank among the most crabbed rejoinders ever offered to a state of the union speech.
The congressman from Massachusetts spoke from Fall River, a one-time textile center. Mr. Kennedy called it a “proud American city” that was “built by immigrants” and “knows how to make great things.”
Mr. Kennedy failed to mention that it’s just the sort of town to which Mr. Trump is trying to bring back jobs and business. Nor did he acknowledge how pension funds are benefiting from the Trump stock market boom.
The most bizarre feature of Kennedy’s rejoinder was the notion that the Republican Party is turning American life into a “zero-sum game.” He called it a game where “in order for one to win, another must lose.”
In fact it is precisely the Democrats’ redistributionist socialism that is the zero-sum game. They want to cut the American pie into ever smaller slices and make government redistribute it.
Mr. Trump’s Republican brand of pro-growth economics is the opposite of a zero-sum game. It would lift Americans by growing the whole economy. That is Republican holy-writ, before and after Trump.
So non-responsive were the Democrats that it’s hard not to conclude the party panjandrums want to run out the clock until November. Maybe they figure they have the House in the bag.
Or the Senate.
Or that special prosecutor Robert Mueller will throw the whole thing into a cocked hat. The polls are telling them Mr. Trump’s approval is testing record lows.
How, they figure, could polls be wrong?
This column first appeared in the New York Post.