There is only Trump: Joint session #1

10:08. Paul Ryan laughed when Trump dismissed the imminence of “trivial” battles, the Democratic side of the House walked out one nanosecond after Trump said “Thank you,” and Jason Chaffetz said “It’s an honor” as he begged Trump to shake his hand. A few minutes earlier, he used Ryan Owens’ widow as a prop to make us forget he blamed the generals for the Yemen raid. Because he clung to the teleprompter, the Chris Cillizzas of the Beltway will say he looked more presidential.

10:07. I wasn’t a slavish Joe Biden fan, and I’ve got a long writing record on Al Gore, which is to say I get how vice presidents must look joyfully constipated behind presidents during congressional addresses. But Vice President Pence reminds me of Dan Quayle, seal-like in his enthusiasm.

10:05. Enemies are now allies. Some are even business partners with Cabinet secretaries.

10:01. Should media discover more untold facts about the raid, this undoubtedly moving moment will stick in our throats.

9:56. What “war” is this man talking about that police officers must fight? LET ME GUESS.

9:50. Oh, here we go: from celebrating a young woman who’s the first to graduate college to condemning VIOLENCE in Chicago. His jaw sets and his voice gets excited when he lingers on “violence” and “slain.” He knows their power as rhetorical devices for his base.

9:48. I appreciate Trump’s newfound appreciation for disabled citizens.

9:44. Speaking of hostage taking, Paul Ryan wasn’t going to applaud at Trump’s request for paid family leave until he saw momentum shift.

9:39. I can’t imagine the raucous applause for “repeal and replace Obamacare” will play well in battleground state campaign ads, especially when Dems sit marble stiff. If the ACA is “collapsing,” then, yeah, we should eliminate insurers as middle men.

9:37. Ah. Infrastructure. He said little other than Ike

9:37. Ryan Grim tweets: “While Trump is speaking, results from three CT special elections come in:Dems won 2 seats bigly & nearly took the most GOP seat in the state.”

9:33. The gormless Harley Davidson crack, protesting import taxes, the requests for fair trade — I can’t imagine how a Trump voter two doors down would protest. This speech changes nothing.

9:30. When he mention “differences between parties,” Trump gestures stage right to the mute Democratic opposition.

9:29. “Forty million people” on food stamps, with a promise to add ten million more.

9:25. So far what I’m hearing is Sean Hannity slash fiction delivered in a stentorian voice by an HR Block store manager.

9:22. Uh oh. “Integrity” and “rule of law” re “the borders.” Oh: a “great great wall along our southern border.”

9:18. Genuine raucous laughter over Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.” Genuine raucous approach to the claims that the Pipeline of Death, made of American steel, will bring jobs; that coal will start choking more generations in West Virginia, to the delight of Joe Manchin; and ordering a joint task force to stop violent crime. And who doesn’t like drug treatment, especially when so many chemicals will poison American waterways thanks to Scott Pruitt?

9:16. First reported uses of “very, very” and “beautiful” and “fantastic.”

9:14. Can a “chorus” become an “earthquake”? Mixed Metaphor Alert

9:11. “What we are seeing today is the renewal of the American spirit.” Drugs “pour in” through “fully open borders”

9:10. In an attempt to get Democrats applauding early, Trump condemns the vandalism of Jewish ceremonies.

9:09. The tensest of these gatherings I’ve seen. Inexplicably, Joe Scarborough stands next to Elijah Cummings: the former clapping politely, the second one looking like he’d rather be reading Stendhal.

9:06. I think Justice Sonia Sotomayor said “Fuck off” after thanking the president.

9:04. A few empty seats. More than a few!

8:58. Chris Matthews, drunk, has already rhapsodized about these occasions serving as excuses to air “the American family.”

8:50. I wish reporters and analysts would pour kerosene over the phrase “Trump’s policies” and sprinkle the ashes on David Broder’s grave. There are no policies. He is improvising, and not in the Rooseveltian sense of keeping the nation in suspense while insouciantly deciding between this directive from the attorney general or that paper from Interior, but like a murderer steeped in blood standing over a body while the police knock on the door. What “policy” exists is in the teacup-deep brain of Paul Ryan: rescinding oversight of Wall Street, reduced corporate taxes, letting the poor die because they were too stupid to find the jobs necessary to afford health insurance. Speaking of the attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III says he read summaries of the previous Justice Department’s study of police violence in major cities and concluded there ain’t nuthin’ thar.

There are no policies. There is only Trump.

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