Throughout President Trump’s 80-minute State of the Union address, you’d think Democrats were sitting on their hands and they’d fallen asleep.
Whenever the cameras panned the Capitol’s House chamber to show the 500-plus lawmakers packed in for the speech, half the room was clapping and half wasn’t. In one shot, Democrats could be seen flipping through their smart phones or chatting with each other. Rudely, many left before the end of the address.
Not so, though, for Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat. He was often shown jumping to his feet and applauding, especially when Trump touted subjects with which many Americans agree (as the president did repeatedly).
“As Donald Trump talked about infrastructure, the resurgence of coal as part of America’s energy strategy and Christian faith as the center of American life, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin bucked his party and applauded,” the Daily Mail reported.
On at least one occasion, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer glared at him as he rose, leading Manchin to quickly take his seat again.
“In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. ‘The motto is, “In God We Trust,’ ” the president said. Manchin was the only Democrat who leapt to his feet during any of Trump’s 115 applause lines.
Manchin said on “CBS This Morning” that Democrats really need to grow up and appreciate ideas that all Americans support — for the good of the country.
“There’s so much we need to do,” he said. “And just to sit there and frown is not going to fix anything.”
He also said on “Fox & Friends” that he was just practicing a little thing called common courtesy.
“That’s the way I was raised in West Virginia,” he said. “There’s some civility still yet — there should be civility in this place.”
Democrats fled quickly at the end of the speech. As Trump was making his way up the aisle afterward, most of the seats on the left side of the chamber were empty. But Manchin stayed.
“I stood there and shook his hand and thanked him,’ Manchin said. “Because he talked about coal. We’re going to do coal research, research and development. Opiate addiction. I need that.”
“I’ve never seen a pothole that belonged to a Democrat or a Republican. We both get blamed for that one,” he said.
Throughout the night, Trump offered up lines that both sides could agree on. But that didn’t happen. Praise to the U.S. flag? One side stood and cheered, the other side sat silent. Applauding America’s gritty veterans? A no brainer, right? Wrong. Republicans stood and clapped, Democrats didn’t budge. Freedom and democracy? Yawn, said the Democrats, as Republicans whooped and hollered.
When Trump touted the fact that black unemployment has hit a record low, you’d think the Democrats — the party of black America — would have at least indulged in a polite golf clap. Think again. Crickets.
Republican Rep. Chris Collins said on C-Span that he was disappointed by the partisanship.
“Time after time, standing ovations by our Republicans — and I think with the exception of Joe Manchin from West Virginia who stood with us, the rest of the Democrats sat on their hands.”
“It was — I’ll just use the word disappointing.”