Newsday: Trump must be part of solutions

February 8, 2019

America didn’t need to hear from President Donald Trump Tuesday night to understand the state of the union. It’s uneasy, and will be for a while.

That was underscored in his address to Congress, as Trump veered from traditional calls for high aspirations and hopes to expressions of rank partisanship. Touching anecdotes about veterans and a survivor of childhood cancer were juxtaposed with harsh rhetoric on immigration. You didn’t have to be in the room to see — and even feel — the tension.

His call to reject the politics of revenge and embrace compromise was welcome. But that will be meaningless if he does not engage in the process, and if Democrats do not respond. Given Trump’s history of partisan attacks, it was no surprise Democrats often sat in silence. His appeal for unity was belied by doubling down on a divisive border wall.

Most troubling was Trump using this stage to denounce the “ridiculous partisan” Russia investigation as detrimental to the country. No, it’s about honoring the rule of law.

But there is common ground to mine. Cutting drug prices and teeing up an infrastructure program can get done if Trump and Democrats are willing to share the glory. There is even a common-sense deal to be made on immigration, but not by bashing negotiators, demonizing migrants, hyping a false border crisis and mischaracterizing opposition to his wall. That produced one shutdown. Some of the federal workers hurt by it sat in the gallery as Trump spoke, reminders of those unable to pay bills and forced to go to food pantries. Another shutdown could happen next week.

As Trump begins his third year, the challenges mount, and the need to calm the waters he has roiled grows more dire.

— Newsday

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