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 email@example.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 02/05/2019
Print Headline: Chance to be presidential