Free Minds & Free Markets

All the President's Human Props: Welders, Cops, Vets Will Be Trotted Out During SOTU

Donald Trump will continue the awful tradition of showcasing "Skutniks" at the State of the Union address.

C-SPAN, Nick GillespieC-SPAN, Nick GillespieVia Politico comes this list of "special guests" that Donald Trump will showcase tomorrow during his State of the Union address (SOTU) tomorrow night at 9:00 P.M. ET. The human exhibits include crime victims, veterans, entrepreneurs, and beneficiaries of various Trump actions.

Corey Adams — Welder from Dayton, Ohio, who, along with his wife, became a first-time home buyer last year. Sanders said he would take money saved from the president's tax-cut package and set it aside to pay for his two daughters' education.

Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas — The two couples are parents of girls killed by MS-13 gang members.

Matthew Bradford — Marine Corps veteran who stepped on an IED in Iraq in 2007, costing him both of his legs and his eyesight. He was the first blind double-amputee to re-enlist in the Marines.

Jon Bridgers — Founder of the Cajun Navy, a nonprofit group that engages in rescue efforts, most notably during the flooding in Houston that resulted from Hurricane Harvey last fall.

David Dahlberg — Fire prevention technician who saved 62 people, including children and staff members, when a Southern California wildfire encircled their camp last July.

Ryan Holets — Police officer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who adopted a baby from parents addicted to opioids.

Ashlee Leppert — Coast Guard aviation electronics technician who engaged in rescue efforts during the historic hurricane season last year.

CJ Martinez — Supervisory special agent for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit, whose investigations have led to the arrests of more than 100 MS-13 gang members.

Justin Peck — Army staff sergeant who aided a team member wounded last November by an IED, saving his life.

Preston Sharp — Creator of the Flag and Flower challenge, dedicated to honoring deceased veterans at military cemeteries by placing an American flag and a red carnation on their grave sites.

Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger— Sibling founders of Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio, who were able to grow their business and offer their employees a larger holiday bonus, Sanders said, because of Trump's tax-cut legislation.


Ronald Reagan is to blame for the nauseating twist on the annual presidential report that's mandated by the Constitution. Back in 1982, the master showman highlighted the heroism of Lenny Skutnik, a Congressional Budget Office staffer who pulled a drowning passenger out of the Potomac River after an Air Florida plane crashed in that slow-moving cesspool. Ever since then, almost every State of the Union address has featured one or more "Skutniks," or Americans who somehow embody everyday heroism, stoicism, victimhood, or identity politics. I've got nothing against Skutnik, who was indeed a hero, but this is a tradition hammier than an Easter dinner. Past Skutniks have included such luminaries as Second Lady and would-be music censor Tipper Gore, steroid-popping and bat-corking baseball slugger Sammy Sosa, and epically corrupt and incompetent Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.

Tune in to Reason tomorrow for a live stream discussion featuring Katherine Mangu-Ward, Matt Welch, and Peter Suderman. That begins at the conclusion of the State of the Union Address, which begins at 9:00 P.M ET.

Earlier today on the Reason Podcast, Mangu-Ward, Suderman, Welch, and I talked about the SOTU and related topics. Listen via iTunes or click below to catch up on that.

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  • esteve7||

    The SOTN is a hot mess anyway. All the president needs to do is send a letter, so if I were President I'd just troll them by having my press secretary read it for congress

  • ||

    I would love if we went back to it being just a letter. Woodrow Wilson ended that tradition.

  • Flinch||

    Hold that thought: the same congress that can't/won't read its own bills is going to read a letter from the president? That might happen, but you and I are destined for a dirt nap before that day returns. What they will read is the talking points about it, and a good 30% could be outright ambushed about the language contained if it suited the press to ask real questions of their best buds on the hill. Most of the lawyers in congress are there because they don't read decisions, and arriving in court blissfully unaware of precedent can open the door to sanctions and possibly disbarment [where they haven't even read their own briefs on top of being a noodle].
    Personally, I hate the show as presently occurs - a bunch of "clapping seals" is an apt description. I wonder what words Mark Twain would use to summarize this regularly recurring bozo circus...

  • DiegoF||

    The actual text is, "He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." When you look at the pre-Wilsonian addresses, they're essentially that. They're reports--a bit more florid, as things often were back then, but reports. And they have specific, often quite mundane, policy recommendations. They're far too long to be a speech but--again, as things were back then--quite short as far as memos go. The provision is simply part of the enumeration of the President's roles and duties as chief bureaucrat--a reminder that he has a personal responsibility to keep the legislative branch abreast of the information gathered by the state apparatus. Especially with technology being as it was, such a transmission of information could not be taken for granted, and the SOTUs of years past are a reminder of that.

    If I were president, I'd probably fulfill my duties in the form of quarterly reports emailed to Congress.

  • DiegoF||

    Also interesting: Wilson laughed after he gave his first "speech from the throne" that he couldn't believe TR didn't think of it first and he knew it was just driving him crazy.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I'd give them the Bronx Cheer and then moon them.

  • ThomasD||

    "If I were president, I'd probably fulfill my duties in the form of quarterly reports emailed to Congress."

    I'd do similar. But, since we are talking politics, I'd go one step further and tailor an addendum to each State and congressional district.

  • ThomasD||

    "If I were president, I'd probably fulfill my duties in the form of quarterly reports emailed to Congress."

    I'd do similar. But, since we are talking politics, I'd go one step further and tailor an addendum to each State and congressional district.

  • ThomasD||

    But I wouldn't post it twice.

  • FlameCCT||

    Perhaps modernize it and send them a tweet with embedded video and letter. ;-)

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    No Stormy Daniels?

  • AlmightyJB||

    So it will be just like every other SOTU except more pearl clutching afterwards.

  • MasterThief||

    Pretty much. It's a non-story. Typical for Gillespie to make it into something just because it's Trump

  • DajjaI||

    No offense but, I kinda feel like some of this is going to backfire. Laying it on too thick.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Thick is what the half-educated, diffusely bigoted, superstitious, economically inadequate, gullible, backwaters-inhabiting base wants, needs, and is.

  • FlameCCT||

    Now, now, RAK. You shouldn't talk about the Progressive Democratic Party in such derogatory words. Especially as they will be bringing illegal foreign nationals and other poor downtrodden serfs from the Progressive Plantation.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Might as well have Vladimir Putin there, since he's pulling Drumpf's strings anyway.

    Or maybe Richard Spencer and Tara McCarthy can tell us how wonderful Drumpf's immigration policy is.

  • DajjaI||


    You're starting to get the hang of it!

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    I typically go with "Drumpf" because "Orange Hitler" takes longer to type. Plus "Putin's puppet" would be redundant in the first sentence.

    Some people here use a name that involves "-tard," but I learned in college "tard" is an ableist slur. I avoid those.

  • DiegoF||

    What about "-fag"? Should we really be cautious about triggering Brits, given their history of imperialism?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Out of the question! As a member of the LGBTQ community, I never use that slur, even if it means "cigarette" elsewhere in the world. Its homophobic history in the US is well documented.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    You could try "Shitler". It combines a fascist proper noun with a naughty verb.

  • SIV||

    I like "Cheeto Mussolini"

  • Tony||

    Semi-lucid moldy grapefruit.

  • Ornithorhynchus||

    Maggie McNeill once referred to him as 'the Orangeutan'. I really loved that one.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Trump is the libertarianist of all libertarians, don't you know?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    He's like the bastard, gay love child of Hayek, Rothbard, and Mises.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Yes. Yes, he is. But I suppose you need to throw a female in there somewhere. If they all did a four-way with Ayn Rand you would have the Donald.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Someone as he-manesque as Trump was not born of woman.

  • Red Tony||

    Urge to link to Oglaf rising.

    Just thought I'd keep you posted.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Like one tribe in Papua New Guinea, where several men contribute to fertilization. It makes sense, evolutionarily.

  • FlameCCT||

    Putin? HRC isn't President so why would her good friend and reset button buddy be there?

  • SIV||

    Ronald Reagan is to blame

    Your girl lost, cuck.

  • Libertymike||

    How about the debt continuing to grow exponentially?

    How about the bloated military "budget"?

    How about all of the trillions the Orange one has now committed to spending on maintaining empire in contradiction to his campaign promises?

    How about the trillions the Orange one has now committed to spending on the dreamers and their family dreck?

    How about the failure to stand up to the swamp?

    He's becoming cuckier by the day.

  • DiegoF||

    Wasn't the consensus on Trump, from square one, among his alleged "supporters" here that: (1) In the ways he would be bad, he would be no worse than his predecessors or realistic alternatives; (2) he'd have a chance at being better in at least certain respects?

    I don't think that anyone here really expected anything more out of President Al Czervik. And, despite the condescending assessments of the media and coastal urban elites, I don't think the average Trump supporter does either--when asked, they show a "surprising" among of nuance. The only politician who is actually worshipped as a savior by his supporters is Obama. I think these people see this worship around them and project this assessment onto the Trump supporters, since after all they are so much stupider.

  • Paloma||

    That's true about lots of Obama supporters. They come pretty close to worshiping him....and even his family. At least sainthood status. I still see their family portraits in Facebook cover photos.

  • VinniUSMC||

    These are the same people who worship the Kardashians. Should we expect any better?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I don't expect much from people who chose quick cash over education; ostensible adults who believe fairy tales are true; yahoos who stuck with dying towns and industries over all evidence; a military made of backwater men who haven't won a war in 75 years; and old-timey bigots who saw Donald Trump as a solution much as they see street pills, faith healers, guns, lottery tickets, diffuse intolerance, backwardness, tobacco, and backwater religious schools as solutions.

    How about you, Vinni?

  • gaoxiaen||

    I wish that I could go back to the (nonreligious, in my cohort's) yahoo days. Drugs, liquor, guns, and Harleys, "Yahoo!"

  • gaoxiaen||

    The bleevers and local cops avoided or ignored us. What more could you ask for? If you got your name in the paper, you REALLY fucked up. Didn't happen to me very often.

  • Flinch||

    Don't panic, there are two things to remember. First is Trump has two major parties against him - that's why the first year of this congress had roughly 50% vacation time scheduled by GOP leadership. They weaponized the calendar itself, as an advanced form of filibuster - Trump can't sign or veto anything when they leave town to table all legislation while sidestepping unanimous consent. The second is... leave gratuitous "cuck" comments to Milo - he pulls it off with the right mix of delivery, condescension and flippant contempt towards the ridiculed.
    Seriously though, the "swamp" is in all 3 branches, and Trump can really only fix one while in office. He might set some things in place for future benefit toward the others, but he has to fix his own roof first. Flushing the DOJ and FBI toilets has yet to be completed, and there are a few neo-confederates trying to run immigration policies out of their seats in city government that can't get fitted with their orange jumpsuits until that happens. The swamp drain is slow, agonizing and... under siege at all moments. It may not happen at all if indictments of federal employees are not handed out this year.

  • DiegoF||

    I think SIV threw the first "cuck" here. And fabulous as Milo is, you can't deny SIV does it with style too.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    In many ways SIV is our Milo.

  • KevinP||

    How about the failure to stand up to the swamp?

    Did you read the news today about Swamp Creature McCabe, Deputy Director of the FBI?

  • Libertymike||


  • Sevo||

    Can he get the doctors in the white robes that Obama used to lie about O-care?

  • Flinch||

    He might - but this time it will likely be to respond to a call from the CDC involving some bygone plague resurfacing inside the US, brought to us by the so called "dreamers" or visa lottery winners. It won't be much of a photo op, as there will be a ton of work to do. There are a number of courts salivating at the opportunity to usurp executive power, as has already occurred in the matter of blocking immigrants from regions with no discernible government [but fly a flag anyway] and have zero means to verify actual identities of persons within their border: ID is purely cash & carry - you are who you pay you are in those holes.

  • Tony||

    Sanders said he would take money saved from the president's tax-cut package and set it aside to pay for his two daughters' education.

    I think they're seriously confused about the amount on one side of this ledger or the other. Unless they're planning ahead for DUI school? That should just about cover it.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    You can save money from multiple sources. They didn't say it would pay for college outright.

    But also, the real thing here is that sounds too phony.

  • Paloma||

    I was gonna say. Take the couple thousand and head to Vegas. You might hit the big one. That might make a dent.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    The state of the union is this: we are being led by an orange orangutan lunatic into World War III Bazi style, and we probably will be lucky to live through it. And no one cares. It's the STFU, not the SOTU.

    I have massive massive pooping right now!

  • Flinch||

    My, you are stuffed up: it's coming out both ends...

  • DiegoF||

    Ouch! I hope he didn't catch that nasty visa lottery plague.

  • John C. Randolph||

    If you were nauseated by Lenny Skutnik, then fuck you. The man was a hero.


  • DiegoF||

    As Gillespie says, maybe Tipper, Sammy Sosa, and Hamid Karzai didn't measure quite up to Skutnik's level of heroism.

    But I know who does: Emma "Mattress Girl" Sulkowicz, the honored guest of my very own Senator (and future President) Gillibrand at the last SOTU. Her refusal to remain silent exposed the latest perpetrator of an ugly, horrific act that, until then, had nearly always remained a shameful secret: voluntary sex with Emma Sulkowicz.

  • Tony||

    Police officer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who adopted a baby from parents addicted to opioids.

    Thank you Jesse Pinkman!

  • Verbum Vincet||

    That first SOTU was a disgusting, but clearly effective propaganda display. Then again, aren't they all? Maybe this one will be even better! I can't help it - each time I see Trump (or Netanyahu) Motorhead's "Orgasmatron" starts playing on a loop in my mind.

    "I march before a martyred world, an army for the fight. I speak of great heroic days, of victory and might. I hold a banner drenched in blood, I urge you to be brave. I lead you to your destiny, I lead you to your grave"

    The one time I vote for Red/Blue Team...

  • some guy||

    ...who pulled a drowning passenger out of the Potomac River after an Air Florida plane crashed in that slow-moving cesspool.

    I'll have you know the Potomac is nearly safe to swim in again. You can even eat up to one fish a month out of it. Stay out of the Anacostia, though. That one will kill you dead.

  • Intelligent Mr Toad||

    During the SotU speech tonight, Turner Classic Movies will be showing KING KONG (1933). Don't miss it!

  • crufus||

    It's too bad that Tom Brady is unavailable to attend.

  • albo||

    You know what would be great? For Trump to get such a bad response and boos for this speech that he cancels them in future years and instead sends the congress a written copy of his speech, like presidents used to.

    That way we don't have to go through this political kabuki theater every year and want to gut ourselves with a tanto.

  • crufus||

    I have never watched a state of the union speech. I just can't stand to watch political speeches of any kind.

    Is there anyone other than politicians, reporters, and pundits who watch them?

  • Unemployed Armenian Tranny||


  • Unemployed Armenian Tranny||

    The SOTU address has long since devolved into strangecross between masturbation and a reverse dog show.

  • Nuwanda||

    I have it on good authority that Sotomayor and Ginsburg will moon Trump.

  • GamerFromJump||

    And regarding the Dems who plan to bring "Dreamers"? Why, that's just a demonstration of principles!

  • Ned Netterville||

    Gotta hand it to Trump on his choice and the number of his skutniks. Appears to me he had even more skutniks than Obama, who held the Guinness world record until last night. And his choice of heroes, victims, exemplars, etc, was such that he forced the Dems to stand and applaud every time he incessantly pointed to one of them. This completely foiled the Dems' plan to sit on their hands and scowl throughout the entire event. Ain't politics a wonderful and stimulating game played by such intellectual giants???

  • go right here||

    Nice Post. It's really a very good article. I noticed all your important points. Thanks

  • markwil||

    Really cool post, highly informative and professionally written..Good Job


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