Trump Preaches Unity, Though Immigration Intrudes

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By Gerald F. Seib,

from The Wall Street Journal,

The question hovering over the State of the Union speech is whether it is possible to step around the immigration fight to avoid another shutdown.

When Donald Trump became president, there was reason to believe he might govern as he campaigned, almost as an independent, standing apart from both parties, perhaps even with an ability to bridge the two parties because he was beholden to neither of them.

And for the first half an hour of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, that was the very tone he set in his remarks in the House chamber. He opened his arms to Democrats, declaring that Americans are “hoping we will govern not as two parties but as one nation.”

Though himself a regular and enthusiastic practitioner of the political insult, he urged lawmakers to reject “pointless destruction” and to “reject the politics of revenge.” There was nary a mention of the partisan fight that partially shut down the government for 35 days.

“Victory is not winning for our party,” he said. “Victory is winning for our country.”

Then, Mr. Trump turned to the issue that rends the Congress, the two parties, and the nation: immigration. For 15 minutes he delivered a notably harsh lecture on the evils of illegal immigration and the need for the border wall he demands and that Democrats refuse to fund.

At one point, Democrats groaned as he described the caravans of Central Americans heading toward the U.S. border, though the groans were quickly cut off with a wave of the hand from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seated just behind the president.

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