No two words better sum up the Trump era than “nothing matters.”
They are a reminder that a) no matter the excess or outrage President Trump sparks, it will have no effect on how his supporters perceive him and b) nothing the president says actually matters.
When you have a president who lies constantly, changes policies on a whim, and whose word is largely worthless, how can anyone take what he says seriously?
For all the gauzy pomp and circumstance — and empty rhetorical appeals to American ideals — Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night was yet another “nothing matters” moment.
Consider, for example, this passage: “Together, we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.”
Pardon me while I channel my inner John McEnroe, but “you cannot be serious.”
Not only has Trump created fresh political stalemates, enflamed old divisions, opened new wounds, offered no novel solutions to America’s problems, and systematically undermined the promise of America, but the only coalitions he has created are among those who oppose him.
A president who days ago, in an e-mail to supporters, accused Democrats of “UN-AMERICAN” behavior in opposing his border wall, played the same cards on Tuesday night, as he trotted out his same tired and already rejected talking points on immigration.
He said “the lawless state of our Southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well-being of all Americans.
He warned that “large, organized caravans” were “on the march to the United States.”
He said “wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”
I can think of not one politician — rich or poor — who supports open borders. It is yet another canard peddled by an administration intent on demonizing anyone who doesn’t share its retrograde views on immigration.
Most pernicious of all, Trump did that racist thing where he highlights isolated crimes committed by undocumented immigrants to tar all immigrants as dangers to society.
Nothing in the president’s remarks gave any indication that he will relent on his precious border wall or offer Democrats an olive branch that will make a compromise on immigration possible.
When Trump wasn’t busy fear-mongering about immigration, he was again demonstrating his persistent inability to tell the truth.
He lied about the number of Americans who are no longer using food stamps.
He misled about the number of jobs created during his presidency, the amount of regulations
that have been cut, and the growth of the US economy.
He falsely accused “the governor of Virginia” of saying “he would execute a baby after birth.” He took credit for improvements in US energy production that pre-date his presidency. He asserted, without evidence, that if he wasn’t president, the United States would be at war with North Korea.
At last year’s State of the Union, Trump blasted North Korea’s human rights abuses, and said “no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.”
Four and a half months later, he met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in Singapore, called him “terrific,” and said the two men had fallen in love.
On Tuesday, he spoke of his “good” relationship with Kim and announced a second summit meeting with the dictator he once called “cruel” and “brutal.”
The dissonance was even more evident when it came to the Islamic State.
Last year, Trump said the fight against ISIS “has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory” once held by the terrorist groups, “but there is much more work to be done.”
On Tuesday, he again bragged of having “liberated virtually all of the territory” from the group, but he followed that up by saying “it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.”
Last January, he said it was “time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.”
That time never came.
And yet, there he was again on Tuesday night calling for a “great rebuilding” of the country’s “crumbling infrastructure.”
Want to take a guess how that pledge will turn out this year?
At the end of the day, Trump’s second State of the Union wasn’t much different from the first one and is even harder to differentiate from his daily pronouncements on Twitter or at press conferences.
It just doesn’t matter.Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.