delivered his third State of the Union address Tuesday night in one of the most paradoxical political scenes in memory. The President stood before the House Speaker who recently impeached him, and a day before the Senate will acquit him as his approval rating rises.
Mr. Trump touted his substantive policy achievements as he began to frame his case for re-election. They include tax reform and deregulation that gave the economic expansion a second life and has produced the tightest labor market since the 1960s. Wages are now rising for the least skilled and educated, a reversal of the
years when most gains went to those who held financial assets.
The President also celebrated his record number of first-term judicial nominees, who are remaking the judiciary as he promised in 2016. He talked about criminal-justice reform, which he pushed across the finish line in Congress despite doubts in his own party. And he talked at some useful length to make the case for education choice, especially for poor children denied it by teachers unions and a Democratic Party that increasingly opposes even charter schools. This will be a clear point of contrast in the election, and it’s a winning issue.
Mr. Trump also went on modest offense on health care, touting the decline in drug-price inflation and more choice of health insurance plans. We doubt most Americans had heard that opioid deaths are also finally declining, as that long scourge may be ebbing. Less encouraging was his willingness to entertain drug price controls, though at least he didn’t endorse the House bill that would set U.S. prices according to an index of nations with socialized health systems.
That would clash with another of Mr. Trump’s themes from last year that he repeated Tuesday—which is a warning about socialist economic and health-care policies. The President also marked the political differences on energy policy, and he set up a campaign debate with a robust defense of the U.S. oil-and-gas drilling boom and its strategic and economic benefits.
On foreign policy, Mr. Trump has less to celebrate, but it was good go see him mention his opposition to the tyrants in Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. He flagged the diplomatic success of his recent trade deals, though his tariffs have had significant costs in slower growth. Yet Democrats can hardly object because most are more protectionist than Mr. Trump is. He also took a victory lap over his military buildup, more defense burden-sharing by allies, and the recent success targeting terrorist leaders.
Mr. Trump delivered his speech as the Gallup poll showed his approval rating rising to 49%, the highest of his Presidency. He is benefitting from growing confidence about the economy and souring approval of Democrats—perhaps because of impeachment.
We’ve learned over three years that Mr. Trump doesn’t cope well with political prosperity and no doubt he will court new controversy. But what an irony it would be if the Democrats who so loathe Mr. Trump helped him win a second term by impeaching him.
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