President Trump is set to deliver his second State of the Union Address and his first formal Address in front of a divided Congress and I can't help but think it's going to be quite interesting. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) will be sitting directly behind Trump now that Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives, undoubtedly casting a stark difference between now and previous speeches President Trump has delivered in front of Congress.
It's anybody's guess what President Trump will say tonight, but the thing I'll be paying most attention to is how Republican representatives in the audience react throughout the speech, especially when the President says something controversial. Will they be doubling down on their support of him after their poor showing in the 2018 midterm elections or will we start seeing some push back by more moderate members of the caucus during his speech tonight?
Yes, the State of the Union speeches are largely theatrical performances designed to spark emotions. They all have many built in pauses for standing applauses. It is the intensity of the applauses that will be noted for later comment by the media as the cameras roll across House chamber attendees capturing the close-ups of facial expressions.
The formal introduction of the President on the podium will of course generate applause, but the intensity of that applause should be measured against the similar introduction of "Madame Speaker". Could her introduction be louder?
Overall though we will have a front seat view of Speaker Pelosi's reaction to the various applause lines as she is seated right behind the President. I would guess that she will remain stern faced and seated most of the time, but will give the President his due on truly bipartisan proposals that Democrats agree with. She will play it safe.
I don't know about many of the young new members of Congress. They may be less restrained.
I was surprised to see Trump play into the cheer and applause for more women being in Congress than ever before. That was far and away the most interesting few minutes of the entire night for me. So much subtext and agendas clashing together in that one moment when everyone started organically chanting 'USA! USA! USA!'. Was a bit surreal to watch. It was partisan and very bipartisan at the exact same time.
Anyone else found this moment super interesting? This was it:
You can tell the left wasn't cheering Trump. They were cheering the rise of women against Trump. Or just cheering women gaining representation in high positions in general. And some on the right were cheering for Trump as if it were his accomplishment. And some seemed to be cheering both. Or just for the USA and its stride making in general. And Trump.. anyone's guess. Seemed to me he was legitimately happy about it as long as there was applause while he was at the podium.