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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Introducing heroes at the SOTU

Not sure how I feel about the recent tradition of Presidents introducing all sorts of heroes at their State of the Union addresses. The people introduced last night were all deserving of either admiration or sympathy, but most were also obviously being trotted out to help make political points.

They had Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashley Leppert, who rescued dozens of people from a helicopter during Hurricane Harvey.

Firefighter David Dahlberg, who rescued 62 children from the recent wildfires in southern California.

Steve Staub, who is growing his manufacturing business by 23 to 37 employees thanks to the recent tax cuts and deregulation, along with one of his welders, Corey Adams.

Twelve-year-old Preston Sharp, who organized the placing of over 40,000 flowers on veterans' graves. (This provided a lead in to Trump's statement about how we should stand for the flag and the national anthem.)

Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddie Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens, the parents of two girls who were murdered by MS-13 members. They provided a stark backdrop to Trump's statement about how we have to clamp down on gangs, in particular that one.

Homeland Security agent Celestino Martinez, who has spent his career fighting violent street gangs like MS-13. (Always better to show a Hispanic fighting other Hispanics, so as to deemphasize the racial component to violent crime.)

Police officer Ryan Holets and his wife Rebecca, who adopted a baby from a homeless woman whom Ryan convinced not to inject heroin while pregnant. (Cops were in the doghouse during Obama's last couple years in office, and stories like this help balance the public view.)

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck, who risked his life in Raqqa to bravely -- and skillfully -- rescue his infantry squad mate Kenton Stacy.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier, parents of Otto Warmer, who was imprisoned and tortured -- and basically, killed -- by North Korea.

Ji Seong-ho, who escaped from North Korea and whose siblings had to eat dirt to assuage their hunger.

(Have there ever been that many people introduced at a SOTU before?)

The Trump administration obviously took great care to make sure that the people introduced represented a broad cross section of the population, and that it was balanced both racially and in terms of gender. (To do otherwise would be politically suicidal.)

It's great that these heroes are getting this publicity. I had never heard of any of them (beside the parents of the victims, who are in a somewhat different category than the heroes), and even if they served primarily as political props, it's great that they got the air time.

Publicizing people like this, rather than actors and various sports "heroes," is what the media should be doing. Real heroism is about self-sacrifice, not being a well-paid star.

Quick -- how many recent Medal of Honor winners can you name? Hmm. But, you can probably name at least three of the Kardashian sisters, can't you? (Don't worry, this isn't you fault -- it's the media's fault.)

It was also edifying to see these people just because they're a reminder that real heroes look like ordinary people (not like Arnold Schwarzenegger or George Clooney).

It was also interesting to think about the contrast between the heroes and members of Congress. Politicians are for the most part slicksters who are good at feigning earnestness, at obfuscation, at double talk, and at self-promotion. The type of people who are good at these things are generally the opposite of the types who put their own lives on the line for someone else. (Not always, but usually.)

In a way, it's sort of a reality show. Some of the people seemed a little overwhelmed by the moment, though most reacted as they were supposed to. The mothers of the MS-13 victims and Otto Warmbier's mother cried, which was appropriate. The Korean fellow defiantly brandished his crutches, which seemed fitting. And most just wore awkward smiles. My guess is that Justin Peck was more nervous about appearing on TV than he was going into the second floor of that hospital to rescue his squad mate.

 I guess, on balance, I'm happy that all these people were introduced. They certainly made the speech go a lot quicker.


Shaun F said...

John - I really enjoyed that. I also appreciate the air time given to these people. I wouldn't have heard of them otherwise. I am glad when real heroism is given the opportunity to be recognized - all across the country. (I saw a poster in Vancouver, BC where heroism equated to being a postal delivery man - I'm sure the poster was paid for by the Union.) And I agree, the media is quite complicit in focusing on those Hollywood entertainment types, SJW causes instead of real people and..for no better expression - real acts of heroism. But in a world where everyone is equal - we can't have heroes. Anyway, thankfully the people want Bread and Circuses, and quite frankly kudos to Trump for doing that in the way he did it.

John Craig said...

Shaun --
Thank you. My initial reaction was, they're just being used as props, and it sort of demeaning that way. And having to cry on cue when Trump mentions your dead child in a way represents the politicization of a huge sacrifice. But in the end, yes, it's good that they get the air time. (And I"m not suggesting Trump is the only one who's done this, all Presidents have been doing this, at least since Bill Clinton.)

Anonymous said...

When I watched President Trump speak, it gave me some hope for our country. The world as a whole has gone downhill thanks to a far left liberal ideology.

- birdie

John Craig said...

Birdie --
The West has certainly gone downhill.

Anonymous said...

"My guess is that Justin Peck was more nervous about appearing on TV"

At least they knew they would be on TV. The one time in my life I appeared on TV(local) was during area flooding. Only I didn't know I was being recorded until that night while watching the local news channel. I was caught on camera barefooted carrying an empty case of beer bottles from the house to my mini-van. Gotta stay well hydrated you know during emergencies.

I enjoyed Trump's performance especially waving his arm towards the Democrats as if to remind them that 'this is for you'.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Well at least you didn't have the chance to develop stage fright that time. I've found that I usually acquit myself better when that's the case; if I'm forewarned and have time to worry about something ahead of time, I may get nervous about it, and that nervousness will show.

I liked that aspect of Trump's performance, too. He'd hold out his arms to them, and then make a sort of "Well?" gesture, as if to berate them for their lack of response to a policy they should have supported. I guess that's one of the benefits of having all those heroes there, it made it impossible for the Democrats not to stand and clap for something.