Despite all the self-flagellation over missing the story of the 2016 Presidential election, the pundits of the Beltway still don’t seem to get it. Last night, the President gave a speech to – or past – a joint session of Congress. Past, because it was not really intended for the members. He spoke of American greatness and American destiny, which have been forfeited by the Obama administration. Trump, in effect, gave an update of his stump speech. Then, former Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, followed with the Democratic response, from a diner in Lexington, Ky. Surrounded by a few customers presumably or hostages, perhaps, Beshear, elderly, dressed in a cardigan, a Mr. Rogers for the People, peered at the camera with his pale blue eyes and grandfatherly smile, telling the President and the audience that, in spite of the Presidential breast-beating, in the first month of the new administration, nothing has been done to help working families.
The pundits pounded away on both Trump and Beshear. Trump brought nothing new, no detail. Apart from a Justice Department task force on violence, which is not targeting hate crimes, he proposed no steps to curb the racial and anti-Semitic violence he finally condemned. The rest of the speech was aspirational, laying out his agenda and asking for a bipartisan Congress to act on it. “Act on what?” cried the pundits, who pointed out that Trump peppered his statement with 51 misstatements of fact during a 60-minute speech.
Beshear, they complained, was a dumb choice; a Bobby Jindal moment for the Democrats, who should have pushed forward one of their young Turks: Christopher Murphy, one of the Castro brothers, even Chuck Schumer for crying out loud! Beshear is a slow, old tub, when what they need is a turbo-charged speedboat.
As Archie Bunker would have said, “Wrong again, Maude!” Beshear and Trump were both speaking over the heads of the pundits and politicians, going straight to the heart of mid-America. Beshear won’t be running for President, but he was there to remind folks that Democrats also live in the heartland, and they are watching out for their neighbors and fellow worshippers. Before rolling out Democrat 2018, they are trying to claw back some of what they lost in 2016. Beshear was there to say that the Democrats care, just like a friendly Grampa, not like that Wall Street-loving plutocrat in the White House.
The Beltway media need to get out a little more and talk to somebody besides each other. The two parties know where control of power lies, and they are reaching out to connect to Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. The pundits are fact-checking when they should be minding the storm-cellar.