February 28, 2017… Day 40
Radio alarm: Protests in Vancouver, B.C. today, as the new Trump hotel has its grand opening. It’s Vancouver’s second-tallest building now. The mayor of Vancouver called it “a beacon of racism.” The radio announcer said, “The U.S. consulate is warning Americans to stay away.”
This afternoon the financial markets, and the podcasters and the bloggers took a big quiet breath ahead of Trump’s much ballyhooed address to a joint session of Congress. There’s a thing I know about from Alaska, something some Alaska Natives still do, left over from Russian-America: The Forty Day party. Forty days after someone dies, you throw a party.
Maxine Waters, after Katy Tur asked her if it is disrespectful for her to skip Trump’s address to Congress tonight:
“No, it is not. It is absolutely not. This is ceremonial. And in this ceremony people laugh, they smile, they shake hands, they hug each other, they honor the president. I’m not about any of that. I’m prepared to interact with the president only when he puts up his budget and his agenda that I’m going to have to fight. So let’s not talk about this ceremony in relation to real public policy. I don’t choose to go. I don’t choose to go. I don’t choose to honor him.”
Elizabeth Warren will be there, with Tiba Faraj, an Iraqi-American accounting student. Warren put her on the spot, asking her to talk about what she likes about America, and she responded charmingly like a cute, ordinary young accounting student who isn’t sure what to say on the spot. She said that she just wants to be like everybody else! They were also sitting oddly near each other on the couch which I decided in the end was also cute.
This is representative of what I’m seeing on Twitter:
Congresswomen are wearing white for the suffragettes. I love that there is a visible show of protest. And many of the representatives in the photographs I saw were black. They seem psyched about it, so good. I did learn last year that the suffragettes were racist and that wearing white for the suffragettes is a slap in the face to black women! And that it’s peak white feminism to celebrate suffragettes! So, I hope that on this, the last day of Black History Month, no one is feeling slapped in the face. It is certainly not my place to tell anyone they ought to. I’m sure Twitter will weigh in shortly.
My haphazard live-blogging of the speech:
5:25 pm, PST. I turn on C-span live coverage. It’s just ambient noise and a shot of Steve Bannon pacing in the rain near a car. I hear a voice off camera say, “He has to be on time for this one, don’t he?” and someone else says, “I don’t know. If you’re the President you’re never late.” Seems like it’s the Secret Service guys talking.
5:26 pm. Now there’s a split screen. On the right, Steve Bannon pacing alone in his black overcoat by the south portico door. On the left side, people milling in the Senate Chamber. It’s all very “hail fellow well met.”
5:29 pm. Steve Bannon has gone off camera. Al Franken and Cory Booker are standing next to each other. As always, it’s a sea of dark suits, with a splash of mauve here and spritz of magenta and green there.
5:30 pm. They’ve dimmed the jolly Senate room noise, and now we only hear the sad ambient wasteland outside the White House in the rain. Oop, there’s Spicer, there’s Conway, there’s sirens. Steve Mnuchin with an umbrella? Or just someone who looks like him.
5:33 pm. Jared, Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Stephen Miller exit the White House. The Senators are filing out of the Senate Chamber now.
5:34 pm. Donald and Melania walk out. The camera pans out so we can see the whole big car. Keeps panning out. Yes, this is the White House in the rain. It takes up the whole screen now. Zooms back in. Trump in the back seat. He seems to be reading his speech to himself from a piece of paper. He is reading out loud and has a light on. Sirens and choppers intensify overhead. Still, the sound of rain is heavy on the scene. His pouty lips are really enunciating. I think it is speech practice. And the motorcade is pulling away. A loan young woman with an umbrella watches them go. It looks like Kristen Welker from NBC, who probably visits Sean Spicer in his dreams–but in his dreams, he knows she is Kristen Welker, but she is also sort of a bird.
5:36 pm. The whole picture is on the big room where it happens. Pence.
5:38 pm. Pence and Ryan hug. Ryan gestures to Pence, hey look at this guy, how bout this fellow here, eh? And there’s lot’s of clapping. People are still just standing around joshing. Somewhere Maxine Waters is doing something way better than this!!!!
5:40 pm. The camera follows Bernie. Susan Collins is in bright red. A think-piece recently called her the Republican party’s real maverick.
5:41 pm. The women in white are here and they are beautiful. They make a beautiful sight. “I’m from Kansas,” someone says. Cory Booker is handsome in profile. Then camera zooms in. Mike Pence rubs his hands, looks nervous, fiddles with cufflinks. “We’re gonna have fun here tonight!” some guy says. “Good, good, we’re gonna work on some bills together!!” “Keep in touch!”
5:42 pm. Pence does a cool guy point at someone. Ryan has left his side and now he seems a bit isolated. Elizabeth Warren in purple. A guy says “Hey pal!” to another guy. Everyone sounds like a doofus.
5:44 pm. “Yah, we got that RV now. We stayed in an RV park. They got catfish there.”
5:45 pm. Pence and Ryan both in royal blue ties. Ryan does the gavel thing.
5:47 pm. A bunch of Senators are going to escort Trump in or something. There’s McCain in a pink tie that looks a little cattywampus. He blows his nose on a hanky.
5:49 pm. Small talk everywhere is the worst.
5:50 pm. Rick Perry is a handsome divil in those glasses. Ben Carson smiling into space.
5:51 pm. Another gavel bounce from Ryan. A woman in a teal choker announces the justices of the Supreme Court. C-Span is too grainy on my laptop for me to see Sotomayor’s earrings.
5:55 pm. Someone says “She needs taking care of.” A woman off camera is wheezing and laughing and about to cough up a lung from laughing so hard.
5:56 pm. Pence fiddling with his cuffs some more. It’s hard to make out voices over the room noise now. Someone is explaining to someone else how a bill is introduced.
5:57 pm. Much clapping for Melania. She comes in alone and shakes hand with the young black woman (girl?) in blue who must be one of the people whose relative was killed by an undocumented person.
6:00 pm. Ryan picks up the water glass, and then Pence picks up the water glass. Ryan says “Hey Betsy” and does a frilly little wave, and then Pence does the same frilly little wave. Then Pence does a few ultra manly stiff-handed waves to compensate for having mirrored Ryan’s body language so obviously.
6:04 pm. Trump coming in now. There’s this guy who seems to be in charge of getting him to the front of the room.
6:07 pm. Shouts and cheers as he makes his way to the podium. Whistles. Melanie has a nice smile on her face. The girl next to her looks a little uncertain, like when is this smiling and clapping part going to end??? Finally, more gaveling from Ryan.
6:08 pm. Joe Scarborough is clapping a little bit, but only a little bit. The expression on his face says, “I am clapping a little bit, but I am so tall, that if you average the oscillation radius of my handclap and divide it by the number of inches that I am tall, you can see that I am maintaining my journalistic integrity.” Elijah Cummings is stone-faced next to him. Not clapping.
6:14 pm. “In 2016, the rebellion started.”
6:15 pm. A poetic recapping of his voters voting for him.
6:16 pm. All these companies announced they will create new jobs, blah blah blah.
6:17 pm. “We have begun to drain the swamp” — and there is some kind of unruly audible eye-rolling coming from several places at once. A sort of whuffing groaning scoffing snorting sound.
6:21 pm. I’m too bored to keep liveblogging this.
6:22 pm. “Lawlessness and chaos”
6:23 pm. “A great great wall.” Feels medieval. Like, literally medieval.
6:24 pm. “Bad ones are going out as I speak.”
6:24 pm. “RADICAL. ISLAMIC. TERRORISM.” Yeah, suck it, H.R. McMaster.
6:26 pm. “Extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.”
6:32 pm. Big applause for “5 Harley-Davidsons parked on the White House lawn.” But only after a pause. Like everyone realized Trump expected it. Maybe the line would’ve played better at a rally. This room was a little like “Yeah who gives a fuck” and then realized it was supposed to be clapping sycophantically.
6:41 pm. “Action is not a choice. It’s a necessity.”
6:42 pm. He’s probably bought himself some time among people who are stupid but know what a president is supposed to sound like.
6:43 pm. Line about bringing down the cost of drugs “immediately” might move stock market in the morning.
6:46 pm. Rare disease survivor in the gallery.
6:48 pm. “The unbounded power of a father’s love for his daughter.”
6:49 pm. “Education is the civil rights issue of our times.”
6:50 pm: Chicago…
6:52 pm: Going on quite a bit about supporting law enforcement.
6:53 pm: Gasps and groans of dismay at the announcement of VOICE: Victims of Immigrant Crimes and (something). Dems have been pretty quite and demure throughout but this was like a visceral response.
6:54 pm: He only cares about this black kid dying because it’s a prop for his immigrant-bashing.
6:58 pm: He mentions William “Ryan” Owens. Calls him “Ryan” again. Says he died a hero. It seems like his mom is sitting next to Ivanka? A woman who is visibly trying to hold it together. Ivanka puts her hand on her leg. Owens’s father isn’t with her. Long long prolonged clapping with the camera trained just on her. her neck cords and muscles come in and out of sharp relief because she’s breathing really heavily. This seems too voyeuristic and intense.
7:01 pm. Oh gross. “Ryan is looking down right now, and he’s very happy, because I think he just broke a record.” Meaning the length of the standing ovation. Laying it on thick. More clapping.
7:02 pm. “We strongly support NATO.” James Mattis smiles and nods.
7:03 pm. “The money is pouring in.” (from NATO partners, because of his conversations with them.)
7:03 pm. “We will respect the foreign rights of all nations.” Oh, so no oil-taking then?
7:06 pm. He says a bunch of high-flying aspirational vision stuff you can’t do without science and respect for facts.
7:07 pm. “We all bleed the same blood.”
7:08 pm. “The time for trivial fights is behind us.” Sounds like people laughed or stifled laughs.
7:10 pm. So yes. People will say this was normal, Presidential and non-transgressive.
7:11 pm. Elena Kagan smiles at Trump as he passes by shaking the justices’ hands. Sonia Sotomayor does NOT smile at him.
7:12 pm. All right, I have to get out of here.