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Sarah Sanders said in an interview the other day that God wanted Donald Trump elected president.

That is laughable, of course, to those whose god cares about conduct and honor. They might wonder why God preferred Trump over Sanders' own preacher daddy.

But Sanders' statement is perfectly logical to those whose god deplores abortion above all else and works in famously mysterious ways.

So for Trump's suddenly important State of the Union address tonight, congressional Republicans have implored the poll-sliding president to attend to his and their political imperatives by including a riff on abortion.

In two Democratic states, New York and Virginia, relaxed restrictions on late-term abortions have become issues just in the nick of time for needy Republicans.

In Virginia, the sponsoring Democratic state legislator made the politically unforgivable error of responding to a hypothetical question about a remotely unlikely circumstance. It was whether, under her proposal, a woman in labor could invoke health worries and get a doctor to abort the pregnancy at that point.

All she had to say was that the question was remotely hypothetical and that she couldn't imagine a doctor agreeing to such a patient demand. But when she ended up essentially saying, OK, you could argue that, I guess, Republicans had a rekindled fire.

They had an opening to say Democrats favor infanticide.

Now the preposterously megalomaniacal Russian-endorsed and second-place president has slipped from spectacular blunder and bluster even below the 35 percent approval threshold thought to be his floor.

Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is permitting him to deliver his State of the Union tonight.

And now there is new timeliness to the issue that elected Trump--anti-abortion.

Conservative evangelical Christians overlooked everything else in 2016. What mattered was that he was the candidate who would put the likes of Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court and tip the balance fetus-ward.

A person of better personal conduct who might nominate someone like Merrick Garland? No, thank you, said those whose god is a single-issue deity of the variety of Sarah Sanders'.

In fact, if he can hold himself hostage to the carefully chosen words on his teleprompter, Trump ought to enjoy tonight his best political moments in a good while.

He should stop his poll hemorrhaging and gain a point or three.

Temporary presidential rehabilitation is the only thing these utterly expendable State of the Union addresses are good for.

It's constitutionally required that the president report to Congress on the state of the union. But a simple written report would be so much more appropriate.

Anymore, this annual televised spectacle is worthless stagecraft, consequential only if a battle-scarred president takes full advantage of the venue and dynamic to fortify himself and reverse his failing fortunes.

The president will be made to look important this evening. He'll be introduced dramatically and allowed to tower over the Congress. Pelosi will necessarily sit behind him, indulging for courtesy's sake the absurd notion that he is worthy of her deference.

He'll declare the national agenda on his terms and for an hour of prime time. He will be assured of applause from half the audience after nearly every sentence. The non-applauding Democrats will strike a few voters as evidence of silly and destructive partisanship.

He'll say the nation is doing well. He'll talk about going forward together. He'll provide a litany of assertions and general policy endorsements carefully poll-tested to appeal broadly.

He'll go short on immigration, short on the wall and short on Russia, except to say he's tough on Russia and has just canceled an arms treaty with the cheating rascals.

He'll describe the economy favorably, with some uneven credibility.

He'll generally extol a popular policy initiative to restore the national infrastructure. He'll generally extol a popular policy initiative to address prescription drug costs. He'll generally extol his trade negotiations with China and his plans for another summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

It's the modern nature of tonight's televised beast. After Democrats got waxed in the first midterms of his presidency, Bill Clinton got up in the State of the Union address and spoke consultant Dick Morris' dictation.

He bellowed that the era of big government was over.

It wasn't--and isn't--but Clinton said on television that it was, and, for a while, at least, he'd co-opted the Republican essence.

If Trump can abide conventionality, and if he can keep making the smartly chosen statements that the rolling teleprompter will direct him to say, and if he can avoid the bogus ego-obsessed asides, then he'll assuredly look unnatural and wooden, but as presidential as is within his skill set.

This stands a chance to be a good night for Sarah Sanders' version of better angels, since a State of the Union speech is no occasion for the details where the devil lives.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 02/05/2019

Print Headline: Chance to be presidential


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  • 23cal
    February 5, 2019 at 7:38 a.m.

    "Sarah Sanders said in an interview the other day that God wanted Donald Trump elected president." I don't want to rain on Sarah's parade of foolishness, but by the same metric God must have wanted Bob Mueller to be special counsel and to take him down.
    Sarah is another one who makes God in her image.
    I can guarantee what the riff on abortion won't include: it won't include things that are known to work to reduce abortion rates without infringing on a woman's right to bodily autonomy and to decide her own medical/reproductive care.
    It won't include:
    Fighting for free, easily accessible birth control
    Comprehensive, science-based sex education throughout K-12
    De-stigmatizing being an unwed mother: You can't create a culture where these women are judged and shamed and then expect them not to look for a way out
    Fighting for a livable wage, affordable housing, parental leave, a better foster care system,and affordable healthcare
    Caring for life beyond the womb (immigrants, orphans, addicts, poor, minorities, LGBTs, etc.

  • Rightside
    February 5, 2019 at 8:22 a.m.

    Seems Brummett cheerleading Infanticide. "In New York, there will no longer be any presumption of humanity for the baby at any stage of pregnancy." Democrats Cheer.

    Democratic Washington Sen. Patty Murray blocked the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” presented by Senator Ben Sasse, that would’ve given infants who survived abortions medical care and protections under the law. The left wants dehumanization of us all, pushing, pushing.
    For the past two decades in New York City, more black babies have been aborted than born alive. Democrats cheer.
    Remember the Democrat Party pushed Slavery. Jim Crow. KKK. Lynching. Poll taxes. Literacy tests. And now, limitless abortion at any stage. Party of Slavery now proudly proclaiming its status of being the Party of Limitless Abortion. Some colunmist, democrats cheer on a party where the devil lives.

  • Lifelonglearner
    February 5, 2019 at 9:41 a.m.

    Well said John. Ditto for 23CAL. Of course, not unexpected that a former Dixiecrat repackaged as a Republican like RIGHTSIDE would act like the Republican Southern strategy of intentionally inviting the disillusioned "conservatives" of the South that opposed school integration, voting rights or anything that helped THOSE PEOPLE, ignore the policies of the modern Republican party that are trying to restore all those things the original party opposed. I give our Gov. Asa credit for at least trying to fix the foster care and adoption systems instead of just being a Right To Birth Republican. Otherwise it is just about whose life is being controlled.

  • RobertBolt
    February 5, 2019 at 9:47 a.m.

    You have to go back to the time between Strom Thurmond and the Reconstruction to find success for those southern Democrats, Rightside. Now these people are Republicans who take refugee in the southern Baptist Church, which was founded to cite Biblical authority for those heinous causes. Amen.

  • GeneralMac
    February 5, 2019 at 9:54 a.m.

    The President's ability to nominate United States Supreme Court Judges is a VERY BIG deal and THE REASON I wanted a pro-life president.

    Ask Ruth Bader Ginsburg how big of a deal that is.

    When the Supreme Court upheld the ban on that gruesome procedure ( partial birth abortion ) Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to settle for writing the MINORITY opinion.

    Yes, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, and all Democrats campaigning then, wanted that gruesome procedure made legal desdpite the MAJORITY of US people being opposed to that gruesome procedure.

  • GeneralMac
    February 5, 2019 at 10:18 a.m.

    Surprised John Brummett waited until the 9th paragraph before he reached up his sleeve and played the "second placed president " card.

  • Bullgod1984
    February 5, 2019 at 10:26 a.m.

    23CAL, why should birth control be free? If I wanted to have sex, or thought there might be a possibility I would get lucky before I got married, I went to the gas station and bought some condoms. I am assuming that for birth control to be free it would be subsidized by the government. Why should I have to provide the birth control with my tax money if I'm not enjoying the benefit of getting laid?

  • 23cal
    February 5, 2019 at 10:36 a.m.

    About "23CAL, why should birth control be free?..... Why should I have to provide the birth control with my tax money if I'm not enjoying the benefit of getting laid?" Why, to reduce abortion rates. Or, in your parlance, to "save babies."
    You're not too cheap to spend a few pennies in tax dollars to SAVE BABIES, are you? Anyone that cheap would have to be some kind of monster, wouldn't they?
    About "If I wanted to have sex, or thought there might be a possibility I would get lucky before I got married...." Whoa. Full stop. Are you claiming abortions are only obtained by unmarried people? That's....insane. Oh, wait....that's your narrative, isn't it? Abortions never happen due to failed contraception, unviable fetuses, the mother's health, etc. It is always due to immoral hussies who should be sentenced to childbirth for the crime of not keeping their legs together, right?
    You're sick and despicable.

  • GeneralMac
    February 5, 2019 at 10:42 a.m.

    "sick and despicable" describes the Supreme Court judges (4 of them) who voted to overturn the ban on partial birth abortion.

    Fortunately 5 Supreme Court judges voted to uphold the ban.

    That is the procedure where only the head of the baby is delivered and a scissors is thrust into the base of the skull to kill it before it is fully delivered.

    (Barack HUSSEIN Obama wanted that procedure to be legal, also )

  • GeorgeWashington
    February 5, 2019 at 11:38 a.m.

    I’d like to take a moment to thank people like John Brummett for their assistance in turning Arkansas into a bright red Republican state. Whenever voters are having their doubts about the GOP, all they have to do is read the blithering, unhinged nonsense in this article (and dozens of predictably similar ones) in order to realize that their only real choice is to vote Republican. Standing with Brummett and the Dems means sidestepping outright infanticide, constantly mocking people of faith, and repeatedly insulting the intelligence of anyone who has the temerity to disagree with any facet of big-government leftist dogma. Please keep it up, and keep insinuating that Arkansas would be bright blue again if only her voters were as smart as you. Thanks, John!