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Wendy Robinson: Disputes column on State of the Union address

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Sunday, February 11, 2018
Disputes column about State of the Union

This is a response to Jay Fleitman’s column Feb. 6 about the State of the Union address (“Save your politics for the dinner table”).

First, in his closing paragraphs he delivers a little lecture against talking about politics in a way that accomplishes “nothing positive,” is but “a self-indulgence,” and does nothing to convince people on the other side. Coincidentally, this is exactly my impression of Fleitman’s columns, which often include opinions stated as fact, partial or cherry-picked truths, and slurs against those he disagrees with.

A couple of specific points. Yes, the CBS poll did cite a 75 percent approval by those who watched the speech. However, people who watch State of the Union speeches tend to be skewed toward those who agree with the president, and the same CBS poll states that 42 percent of those watching identified as Republican compared with 24 percent of Americans as a whole.

Yes, unemployment is down and wages are rising, but perhaps the Democrats didn’t applaud this since the president neglected to mention that it is the result of the economic recovery that began early in the Obama administration.

Yes, the speech did call for bipartisan action on an immigration bill that would include a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” which is commendable. However, this does not “establish” anything, as Fleitman states, since it is merely a proposal. And moreover, some see it as a cynical one since it’s hard to believe the president really thinks the Democrats are likely to agree. A particular “poison pill” is the ban on “chain migration,” a term widely seen as derogatory and insulting – and which, by the way, does not allow legal immigrants to bring in “unlimited” relatives, as the president has said in one of his many factual inaccuracies.

I could go on. But to me the real story of the speech is the stark contrast with President Donald Trump’s frequent uninformed, inaccurate and divisive remarks, his relentless disregard of norms and values, and his campaign to undermine trust in the media and our democratic institutions.

Wendy Robinson

Northampton