He confirms he will meet Kim Jong-un this month in Vietnam

A Speech Amid a Plethora of Scandals

Following two of the greatest defeats of his presidency, Donald Trump set aside the most incendiary rhetoric in his second State of the Union Address in favor of a message of dialogue. What the U.S. president did not clarify was what he wanted to have a dialogue about. “I will build the wall” with Mexico. The complete withdrawal of troops from Syria and the partial withdrawal from Afghanistan will continue. China must stop “stealing our intellectual property.” And, the Russian plot scandals are no more than “ridiculous, partisan investigations.”

In this manner, and in a little over an hour, Trump delivered a breakdown of his administration’s achievements and set his agenda for the future, with an eye towards a 2020 re-election, mentioning “the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire,”—coincidentally, all of which are going to be battleground states in that election. It was not for nothing that there were three announced Democratic candidates—Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker—plus another senator, Bernie Sanders, who will very likely run. The greatest development mentioned in the speech was the announcement of another summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un this month in Vietnam.

Trump conveyed his usual messages to his base, particularly evangelicals— introducing two people he had invited to the address who became ministers in prison—and groups opposed to illegal immigration. He once more invited family members of victims murdered by undocumented immigrants, which is common in his speeches.

The most striking aspect was the switch in the president’s flaming rhetoric. Trump presented the fight against illegal immigration as “a moral issue,” although he quickly veered off to link the entry of undocumented immigrants to human trafficking and child sexual abuse. This is one of his followers’ favorite conspiracies, with threads on social media like Reddit and Twitter under the hashtag #QAnon. Trump resorted to “presidential” rhetoric when he made an appeal to overcome “the politics of revenge” and in the purest American style, challenged the audience “to choose greatness.” This time around, the insults and threats of political and institutional blockade were put on hold.