President Donald Trump took the high road Tuesday night.
Mr. Trump delivered his State of the Union address amid a chaotic backdrop colored by a looming Senate impeachment vote on which he will prevail. Many observers no doubt anticipated a gloating chief executive eager to taunt his political foes. Instead, a focused Mr. Trump ignored the impeachment controversy and delivered a presidential oration grounded in optimism, while highlighting his administration’s accomplishments heading into what will be an intense election campaign.
Meanwhile, a dozen or so Democrats — most of whom represent the party’s far-left drift — couldn’t be bothered to show up. Thus do they confirm the thesis of Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn, who argues that Democrats show “few signs they are remotely capable” of figuring out how “to attack the president’s personal excesses without indicting either his supporters or America’s greatness.”
The latter formed the foundation for Mr. Trump’s address.
“Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback,” he said. “Tonight I stand before you to share the incredible results. Jobs are booming. Incomes are soaring. Poverty is plummeting. Crime is falling. Confidence is surging. And our country is thriving and highly respected again.”
The president, angling to expand his base of support, emphasized his successes on deregulation, tax relief and job creation. “We are building the world’s most prosperous and inclusive society,” Mr. Trump said, “one where every citizen can join in America’s unparalleled success and every community can take part in America’s extraordinary rise.”
The president noted that the unemployment rates for African Americans, Hispanics and the disabled are at all-time lows, as is the black poverty rate. He also touted his accomplishments regarding criminal justice reform, rising wages for low-income Americans, increasing investments in neglected neighborhoods and a proposal to expand school choice for disadvantaged families.
The president left little doubt where he stands on what will be a pivotal issue in the 2020 campaign, decrying the Democratic “Medicare for All” proposal as a “socialist takeover of our health care system.” Mr. Trump pledged to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, but vowed to fight against those “who want to take away your health care, take away your doctor and abolish private insurance entirely.”
Mr. Trump didn’t shy away from controversial issues — late-term abortion, the wall and illegal immigration, for instance — but his bullish perspective was in sharp contrast with the dominant Democratic motif of gloom and despair. Tuesday night’s speech showcased Mr. Trump’s savvy political instincts and demonstrated that, despite his polarizing tendencies, he remains a formidable candidate.