Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Trump's 2019 State of the Union Address: A Closer Look

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-The theme of President Trump's State of the Union address

was supposed to be unity, and in the lead-up to the speech,

Trump honored that theme by attacking Democrats.

For more on this, it's time for "A Closer Look."


Remember, this speech was supposed to be last week,

but it was postponed due to the government shutdown.

And as he prepared for tonight's address,

Trump was once again threatening the possibility

of a second shutdown

when government funding runs out on February 15th.

Trump still wants Democrats

to give him money for his border wall,

even though public opinion is still firmly against him.

And that's because he just keeps saying

the same things over and over.

Eventually people are just going to tune you out.

Sure, the first time you see a crazy guy yelling on the subway,

you move down to the other end of the car.

But the 10th time you see one, you just put your headphones in

and listen to a podcast about America's mental-health crisis.

For example -- For example, here's Trump yet again

repeating his claim that previous presidents

should have built a wall on the Southern border.

-We're going to strengthen up our Southern border.

That should have been done 30 years ago,

40 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago.

-Those are all the numbers he knows.

And you know... [ Cheers and applause ]

You know he just threw in "5 years ago"

because he wasn't quite sure

if Obama was president 10 years ago.

Also, if anyone should be happy

a previous president didn't build a wall,

it should be you.

If there was already a wall,

what would people have chanted at your rallies?

"Maintain the previously erected wall"?

"Obama built the wall, but I'm going to keep it clean

because it was filthy under Obama.

A filthy, filthy, embarrassing wall.

Oh, we're going clean it. Oh, we're going to clean it.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Oh, you're going -- You're going to eat off the wall."

Now, in his speech tonight, Trump claimed

he was interested in bipartisan compromise,

and even though he caved on the shutdown last month

without getting any money for his wall,

his allies on Fox News have been pretending

it was actually a major victory.

-He did not cave!

He made a tactical decision,

a strategy decision to pick the ground to fight on.

-Anyone out there, by the way,

thinking President Trump caved today,

you don't really know the Donald Trump I know.

He right now holds all the cards.

-That's right. Trump holds all the cards.

Except he's holding them facing out and upside down,

and they're Monopoly cards.

[ Laughter and applause ]

"They are not Monopoly cards!"

[ Laughter ]

She screams, "He did not cave," like she's in a cave.

[ Laughter ]

In his speech to Congress tonight,

Trump also repeated his claim that a border wall

would stop crime and drugs from pouring into the country,

despite the fact that immigrants commit crimes

at a lower rate than native-born Americans,

and most illegal drugs come through ports of entry.

Trump's been making that same argument for years,

and polls show most Americans still aren't buying it.

That's why in the run-up to his speech tonight,

Trump started making a new, dumber argument --

walls work because cars have wheels.

And what's even more insane is that Republican senators

like Ted Cruz have actually been repeating that argument.

-They say a wall is medieval. Well, so is a wheel.

A wheel is older than a wall,

and I looked at every single car out there,

even the really expensive ones that the Secret Service uses --

And believe me. They are expensive.

I said, "Do they all have wheels? Yes.

Oh, I thought it was medieval."

-You know, the President has a good observation.

He said, "I'll tell you something else that's medieval.

The wheel."

There's a reason the wheel is medieval,

'cause it rolls things and it works.

Walls are effective.

-You know what's medieval? That beard.

[ Laughter ]

You look...

[ Cheers and applause ]

You look like you're about to arrest Robin Hood.

Now, that argument was so dumb, even Trump knew better

than to include it in his speech tonight.

Instead, the theme of tonight's speech was supposed to be unity,

even with the specter of a second government shutdown

looming over the whole affair,

which is why coming in to tonight, everyone was very eager

to see the dynamic between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,

who would be sitting behind Trump for the first time.

Remember, for the last two State of the Union speeches,

Trump had Vice President Mike Pence

and House Speaker Paul Ryan behind him,

standing and cheering for everything he said

like Southern pageant moms.

"Yes, Kaley! You are servin' looks tonight!


And there's a long history of the people

sitting behind the President getting just as much attention

during the State of the Union as the President himself.

Just look at former House Speaker John Boehner,

who always glared at Obama

like a supervillain plotting his revenge.

Or former Vice President Joe Biden who always...

[ Laughter ]

...who always looked like he was going room to room

at a house party, making sure everyone had enough booze.

"You good, Chad? How about you, Rick?

I'm making margs.

Another marg, Chad? One more for you?

Maybe just one big one, two straws?

[ Laughter ]

Gonna do a cannonball later.

You guys might want to come out to the pool."

And the Trump/Pelosi dynamic --

The dynamic is going to be especially fascinating to watch,

given just how overmatched Trump has been in his negotiations

with her over the last few weeks.

Over the weekend, Trump told CBS

he couldn't get a deal done with Pelosi

because she wouldn't budge on anything.

-You had quite the showdown with Speaker Pelosi.

What did you learn about negotiating with her?

-Well, I think that she was very rigid.

-Yeah, of course, she's rigid. It's a negotiation.

This guy wrote "The Art of the Deal,"

and he has no idea how a deal works.

"I got to be honest.

I feel like she and I want different things."

[ Laughter ]

Trump was insistent as recently as last week

that he would get the better of Pelosi,

and he was confident that he'd get his wall.

Let's see how he felt about the status of the wall today

just hours before his big speech.

-President Trump tweeted this.

"Tremendous numbers of people are coming up through Mexico

in the hopes of flooding our Southern border.

We have sent additional military.

We will build a human wall if necessary."

-A human wall?

He negotiated himself down from a concrete wall

to a steel barrier to a fence to a human wall.

Who are the humans in the wall anyway?

Are you and your weird sons going to go down to the border

and play red rover?

"Red rover, red rover.

Send immigrants over."

And there are all kind of State of the Union traditions

most people don't know about.

For example, every year, there's one administration official

appointed as a designated survivor

who stays in a separate location in case disaster strikes,

and tonight that designated survivor

was Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Can you imagine hearing the news

that the Capitol had been blown up

and everyone had been killed

and then hearing the newscaster say,

"And so now we go live for an address

from President Rick Perry"?

I mean, at least we know what he'd say.


-And, in fact, before Trump's speech even started,

we already had one big "oops" moment --

Trump's weirdly crooked tie.

Look at that. Trump --

Trump is so unpopular, even his tie has moved to the left.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Now, understanding what Trump is saying at any given moment

can be difficult for casual observers,

let alone professional politicians

who are used to normal human syntax,

which might explain why at one point Nancy Pelosi

seemed to be reading along with a printed copy of the speech.

She looks like a babysitter

reading the rules of the board game

while the kids are just chucking game pieces at each other.

She looks like she's checking the playbill

to see who the understudy is.

"Ohh! Oh, it's Alec Baldwin."

[ Laughter ]

But this was the first time --

This is the first time we got to see in real time

the two different reactions of Pence on the one hand

and Pelosi on the other, and it was very revealing.

As he repeated the same talking points

he often repeats at every speech,

Pence applauded enthusiastically

while Pelosi was much more muted.

-African-American, Hispanic-American,

and Asian-American unemployment have all reached

their lowest levels ever recorded.

[ Applause ]

-Look at them. Pence is like a dad

who's proud that his kid keyed the principal's car,

and Pelosi's like a mom who's thinking to herself,

"I wish I had a daughter."

But the reactions were most telling when Trump alluded

to the many investigations of his presidency,

including investigations and oversight

being conducted by Democrats in Congress

and implied that those investigations

were somehow hurting the economy.

-An economic miracle is taking place in the United States,

and the only thing that can stop it

are foolish wars, politics,

or ridiculous partisan investigations.

[ Applause ]

If there is going to be peace and legislation,

there cannot be war and investigation.

It just doesn't work that way.

-I'm sorry.

You think the investigations are hurting the economy?

If anything, you've created thousands of jobs for lawyers.

This is such an insane argument.

He's like a guy who gets pulled over for drunk driving

and says, "Officer, I can't focus on the road

with a breathalyzer in my mouth."

And eventually Trump got to the central promise

of his campaign and presidency,

the thing he shut down the government over -- his wall.

And despite all the contradictory messages

he's sent over the past several weeks,

Trump insisted that he would definitely get that wall.

-My administration has sent to Congress

a common-sense proposal

to end the crisis on the Southern border.

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.

-Oh, you're gonna get it built?

You went from promising it would be a concrete wall

to saying it would be a human wall. What's next?

"Walls work, and so do wheels,

and that's why the wall will be built out of wheels.

Oh, no! Oh, no! The wall's rolling into the ocean!

Oh, wheel wall!

Oh, why?!

[ Cheers and applause ]

Goodbye, wheel wall!

I love you, wheel wall!"

Trump then moved on to the economy,

and when he mentioned the percentage of new jobs

occupied by women, the record number of female freshmen

Democrats in the audience started dancing

like the cool aunts at a wedding.

Trump then had the audacity to note the fact that more women

were serving in Congress than ever before,

as if he had something to do with it.

-We also have more women serving in Congress

than at any time before.

[ Cheers and applause ]

-Look at Pelosi letting everyone know where those women are.

Also, I love that Trump thinks he can take credit for that.

"The only reason they got elected

is that most people hate me. You're welcome, everyone."

In fact, a wave of Democrats was elected to Congress in November,

running in part on a progressive economic agenda,

with some, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,

openly embracing the label of Democratic socialist.

Democrats also ran in part

against Trump's deeply unpopular tax cut

for corporations and the wealthy,

and polls have shown support for policies like a wealth tax

or a higher income tax for the richest Americans surging,

even among Republicans.

So Trump decided to take a swipe

at the Democratic socialists in the room.

-Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls

to adopt socialism in our country.

[ Scattered boos ]

America was founded on liberty and independence

and not government coercion, domination, and control.

We are born free, and we will stay free.

[ Cheers and applause ]

-Look at Bernie's face.

That's the face he makes when the waiter catches him

stuffing sugar packets in his pocket.

"All the sugar packets are being hoarded

by the millionaires and billionaires!

Sugar to the people!"

We've been here many times before.

We all know the real Trump is the one

who will reappear on Twitter tomorrow.

In his speech tonight, he attacked

the investigations of his presidency

and repeated his demand for a border wall.

He just recycled

many of the same talking points he always uses.

In other words, he went 'round and 'round like...

-A wheel. -This has been "A Closer Look."

[ Cheers and applause ]

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