Did You Watch the State of the Union?

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on February 4.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Did You Watch the State of the Union?

Words are powerful. Actions, more so.

Even as Donald Trump was uttering the final words of his State of the Union address—“God bless you, and God bless America—thank you very much”—Nancy Pelosi was right behind him ripping up his manuscript. Why? She explained afterward, “Because it was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives.”

This is Speaker Pelosi being “courteous.” In fact, throughout the speech she was demonstrating her peculiar style of courtesy with continual fidgeting, head shaking, paper shuffling, openly muttering who knows what. But don’t think she hates the man she was sitting behind. When a reporter suggested last month that she hates President Trump, she sternly corrected him: “I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love, and always pray for the president. … I pray for the president all the time. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

Never mind her actions. Just take her at her word: Her heart is full of love, so don’t mess with her.

The irony was not lost on many who watched the president’s speech last night. The reaction of Pelosi and her Democrats gave all of us a good hard look at the distorted lens through which they view right and wrong, evil and good.

As President Trump enumerated a litany of national successes, the gallery and half of Congress cheered while Democrats sat, stone-faced, often visibly agitated. Most Democrats saw nothing to celebrate in unexpectedly robust job creation, higher wages, and lower African American and Hispanic unemployment. They could not applaud progress in fighting the opioid epidemic, supporting neonatal health care, lowering prescription drug costs, or securing America’s border. They wore on their faces their disapproval of merit-based immigration and a path to citizenship. They apparently see nothing good about weakening the Islamic State, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or strengthening America’s military.

These moralistic lawmakers were unmoved by the guests and visitors this impeached president invited to the Capitol. Many would not applaud a young black girl receiving an academic scholarship. Some remained adamantly seated so as not to honor one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, the first black fighter pilots. Many felt no need to stand in respect for a family whose two daughters were murdered by the MS-13 gang. Speaker Pelosi would barely even look at the brother of a man murdered by an illegal immigrant, let alone acknowledge his loss. And on and on the “courtesy” went.

The Democratic Party prides itself on its compassion, humanity and charity. It says it fights for freedom, justice, equality, fairness. It has a “heart full of love” for everyone. However, don’t judge them by their conspicuous incivility last night, or by their acrid reaction to evidence of their own nation’s resurgence. Just take them at their word.

For three years, Democrats have been working to thwart this president, and for several weeks they have prosecuted his impeachment. If you take them at their word during these latest hearings, you would think their party was founded on respect for law. They are keen watchdogs against all forms of corruption and abuse of power. They are fierce advocates of the norms of jurisprudence, of equitable execution of blind justice. In speech after speech, they invoke the sacredness of the Constitution and the divine wisdom of the founders: Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin. They are courageously standing in the breach, defenders of democracy, guardians of the republic, champions of the rule of law, shield and buckler, high tower and fortress to all that is good and upright.

And woe and shame upon any who would disagree! These impartial statesmen express astonishment at the crass partisanship displayed by Republicans, who have sold their souls for political gain. They say they are deeply troubled, grieved, pained by the systematic dismantling of the holy pillars of governance that have undergirded American exceptionalism. They say that the acquittal of President Trump by the Senate today marks the death knell for the founders’ vision, and the tragic ruination of what would otherwise be the greatest country in human history. They love the Constitution, and they love America. They say.

It’s very difficult to stomach, considering the source. In fact, this is bald-faced hypocrisy on a scale I have never personally witnessed in my life.

Barely a month ago, these same individuals rushed their impeachment case through the House of Representatives, forbade cross-examination of witnesses, blocked the opposition from calling witnesses, trampled due process, and refused the president opportunity to mount a defense. Now they are lecturing about the sanctity of seeking and airing the whole truth. Their entire case is based on an allegation that the president worked Ukraine’s president to investigate a political opponent, yet they willingly overlook identical activity by members of their own party. They continue to accuse the president of colluding with the Russians—having launched an investigation against him based on false accusations concocted by Russian informants.

The examples of their two-facedness are legion. But perhaps most stunning is their sudden reformation into “strict constitutionalists.” For years most of them applauded as the previous president repeatedly bypassed or ignored constitutional limits on his power. For years many have praised cities, counties and states for flatly refusing to uphold and enforce immigration law. For years they have broadly ignored and excused rank criminality, rioting and violence as being a “natural response” to systemic injustice. For years they have labored to rewrite America’s history into a story of shame. For years they have attacked constitutional guarantees including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms. For years they have denounced the Constitution itself: It’s antiquated and outdated; it must be reinterpreted, made a “living document”; it’s a “charter of negative liberties,” restricting government rather than empowering it on the people’s behalf; it’s a racist invention of bigoted slaveowners.

Now, as they prepare for the next presidential election, the Democratic candidates have been tripping over each other trying to prove who among them is willing to act most radically to reshape the country—denying people rights, despoiling the wealthy, destroying whole industries. They would proudly employ virtually any means necessary. They exalt politics over principle. Their whole mindset is utterly lawless.

Yet suddenly we are all expected to believe these sanctimonious speeches about the sagacity of the framers, the sacredness of American ideals, and the inviolability of the rule of law?

It should be clearer than ever: Their view of right and wrong, evil and good, is fundamentally crooked.

Here is a suggestion: Don’t take them at their word.

Watch what they do. Look at the effects of the policies they propose. Jesus Christ warned of ravening wolves coming in sheep’s clothing—and said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). They say they want to help the poor, help minorities, help women. But when the president gives a speech about 7 million people no longer needing food stamps, 10 million being lifted off welfare, black poverty and unemployment reaching their lowest levels in history, and the workforce offering more opportunities for women than ever, watch what they do.

Their hearts are full of something, but it isn’t love.

Jeremiah 17:9 says the human heart is deceitful and wicked. People want to look righteous, and they can say anything. People like to identify as loving, prayerful, courteous.

Judge by fruits.

Humanity has a limitless history of wrapping its corruption in a cloak of righteousness. Jesus Himself saw it: When a woman anointed His feet with costly ointment, noble Judas rose in indignation: That should have been sold and the money given to the poor! he said. But John’s Gospel exposes the truth: Judas didn’t care for the poor—he was a thief and wanted to pocket the money (John 12:6).

And soon after, he betrayed Jesus—with a kiss.

“Mark you this, Bassanio,” Antonio says in The Merchant of Venice, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. / An evil soul producing holy witness / Is like a villain with a smiling cheek, / A goodly apple rotten at the heart. / Oh, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!”

Yes, Satan himself comes as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He can call the rankest disrespect “courteous” and the most insidious hate “love.” Don’t take him at his word.