How healthy can the state of any union be when its leader doesn’t have the moral authority to address one of the most significant cultural issues roiling his nation?
It wasn’t a surprise that President Trump didn’t mention the #MeToo movement in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. The leader of the free world has his own issues with sexual misconduct. About 20 women have accused him of groping or sexual assault over the decades, which he categorically dismisses as “fake news.” Even so, the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” recording, in which he boasts about of grabbing women in their crotches and kissing them against their will, would make any acknowledgment of sexual harassment highly suspect and politically tricky, to say the least.
What could Trump have said Tuesday night with any credibility other than: “Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Garrison Keillor, Mario Batali. And, oh, #MeToo”?
It’s not likely that Trump would have mentioned the #MeToo movement in his first State of the Union address even without the groping accusations hanging over his head. Republicans don’t seem to understand that sexual misconduct is a real problem for working women and even seem unconcerned about misbehavior among their own ranks. Trump and his party went so far as to back Roy Moore, who faced allegations that he molested young teens, last year in a race for U.S. Senate against a moderate Democrat.
Still, it was disappointing that a topic so important to fully half of the population was conspicuously absent from the chamber of the House of Representatives on Tuesday night. Democrats did at least mention the #MeToo movement in their State of the Union response, delivered by Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, who said of Americans: “You bravely say, me too. You steadfastly say, black lives matter.”
But really: Democrats couldn’t find a woman for the job of delivering the rebuttal? There seems to be a lot of that going around.
Kennedy is an eloquent speaker, and he gave a good counter-speech. But it would have been a much more powerful rebuke to Trump and Trumpism if the words had come from a strong woman leader and not another white man.