President Donald Trump gives his third State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 4, 2020.
Official White House Photo

President Donald Trump gave his third State of the Union address last Tuesday. Due to existing on four-and-a-hours of sleep from watching Iowa Caucus results the night before and then an early morning on Tuesday I didn’t watch it until Wednesday.

Bar none, this was his best address. There were a number of good moments and policy proposals, and a lingering question about how we’ll pay for some of those policy proposals, but I want to highlight my three favorite moments from President Trump’s speech.

All three are gallery moments. Gallery moments highlighting State of the Union guests of the president are among my favorites in any address. They are often powerful, 2020 was no exception.

I’m listing them by their order in his speech.

Recognizing Charles McKee

At 100-years-old, Brigadier General Charles McKee (USAF ret.) is one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. This unit was the first black fighter pilots who served with distinction during World War II.

President Trump promoted him to Brigadier General and pinned his stars earlier in the day in the Oval Office.

I loved the twist. President Trump first introduced McKee’s great-grandson, Iain Lanphier, a sixth-grader in Arizona who wants to go to the Air Force Academy and “has an eye on Space Force.’

President Trump quoted Iain who said, “Most people look up at space.  I want to look down on the world.”

We didn’t know at first Iain was related to McKee. It was a neat twist and unique way to introduce McKee.

A cool moment. Watch below:

Recognizing Janiyah Davis

President Donald Trump then promoted school choice and I believe he’s the first president in U.S. history to do so. This wasn’t his first time including it in an address, but I think this was the most powerful moment doing so.

He recognized Janiyah Davis, a fourth-grader from Philadelphia and her mother, Stephanie. Janiyah is on the wait list for an Opportunity Scholarship. President Trump pointed out that her wait was made longer when Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed legislation that would expand the program to include 50,000 children. The legislation actually expanded the amount of tax credits that would be offered, as well as, raised the maximum household income gap for families to be eligible

The Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program in Pennsylvania enables eligible students residing within the boundaries of a low-achieving school to apply for a scholarship to attend another public or nonpublic school.

The scholarships are actually funded by corporations who donate to scholarship organizations. They, in turn, receive a tax credit from the state. Eighteen states offer some form of this school choice option (including Iowa).

President Trump called on Congress to pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act to expand these programs to one million children.

Generally, I’m skeptical about federal school choice programs because of concern about potential strings attached for private schools. Tax credit programs, however, are generally the least intrusive since the government never directly provides money to schools or families, only to people who give donations to non-profit organizations who supply the scholarships. I still need to see the bill’s language, but based on the House Democrat reaction to this legislation is likely dead on arrival in the House.

The neat thing about Trump’s recognition of Janiyah though was to announce that she will receive an opportunity scholarship.

What disappointed me was that Democrats by and large could not stand to applaud that. This was potentially life-changing news for Janiyah and they couldn’t celebrate it. Sad.


Recognizing Ellie Schneider

Ellie Schneider is a two-year-old who was one of the earliest premature babies ever to survive. She was born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. at just 21 weeks and 6 days and she weighed less than a pound.

My twin brother and I were born premature in 1972 and we had early health struggles. If we were born that early and at that weight then there is no way we would have survived. Neonatal medicine has made huge, huge strides since then.

“Ellie reminds us that every child is a miracle of life.  And thanks to modern medical wonders, 50 percent of very premature babies delivered at the hospital where Ellie was born now survive.  It’s an incredible thing,” President Trump said.

President Trump called for an additional $50 million in neonatal medical research to help continue its advancement.

He also called for Congress to ban late-term abortion. Calling for that ban in light of the advancement of neonatal medicine is an excellent strategy. It demonstrates, yet again, that science is on the side of life.

Not surprisingly, Democrats applauded the announcement of more funding for neonatal research and stay seated when he called for the ban of late-term abortions.

The reaction of Ellie’s mom, Robin, to both announcement is priceless.


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