state of the union address

What You Missed in the 2019 State of the Union Address

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence applaud President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address on February 5, 2019. Photo: Doug Mills/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This year’s State of the Union address was teased as a unifying speech. President Trump, his advisers said, would make a case for bipartisan cooperation in an address delivered a week late due a government shutdown of Trump’s own making.

Unsurprisingly, he failed to strike a very sunny tone. Trump promised to build a border wall, drew groans with fearmongering about migrant caravans, and insisted that Congress stop investigating him. As ever, the most interesting part of the State of the Union was not the clichéd platitudes or boring policy proposals. It was the weird little moments that fit perfectly into GIFs and screengrabs. Moments like this:

Trump’s Crooked Tie
When he entered the House chamber, Trump’s tie was lurching farther to the left than a Democratic presidential candidate. It remained askew when he began his speech, but eventually straightened out.

Trump Asks Brett Kavanaugh If He Still Loves Beer

Different Reactions to the Same Absurdity
Trump imploring Congress to “reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and common good” is so absurd, it’s hard to know how to react. Here are two options.

Clap in his face, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did.

Or you stare at him, dumbfounded at the hypocrisy.

The Speaker Does Not Speak
Trump: “In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built. This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier, not just a simple concrete wall.”


Cocaine Mitch” Lets Loose
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell captured in a rare moment of glee.

The 2020 Democrats’ Reaction-Off
CNN’s cameras caught both Senators Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand reacting to Trump boasting about the strength of the economy. Neither seemed impressed.

Gillibrand is already using a GIF of this moment to raise money for her campaign and Senator Kamala Harris might want to do the same with this reaction, which came after a Trump rant on illegal immigration.

Freshman Democratic Women Raise the Roof
After Trump tried to pat himself on the back for women filling “58 percent of the newly created jobs last year,” dozens of freshman Democratic women stood up and cheered for themselves. At least one raised the roof.

Trump the Conductor
When the House chamber began singing “Happy Birthday” to Judah Samet, who survived both the Holocaust and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Trump didn’t know what to do with himself. So he did this:

What You Missed in the 2019 State of the Union Address