Those who didn’t watch the State of the Union missed seeing a restrained version of President Trump, who gave a conventional speech not out of the ordinary for a “normal” Republican leader.
Trump mixed his calls for “unity” and tried to stay optimistic, focusing on the relatively rosy topics of economics and infrastructure in addition to more divisive issues such as immigration.
But the President’s speech also ignored key issues that have become huge parts of American political life, and cast a shadow over his first year.
Trump promised to fight against “American carnage” and crime during in inaugural address last year, but glossed over the gun violence epidemic as he attempted to cast his presidency in a positive light.
Data are not out for the year 2017, and it remains to be seen whether gun violence deaths continued the upswing in recent years that saw more than 38,000 gun-related deaths in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Trump made only a passing references to the problem that makes America unique in the developed world during his address on Tuesday night.
“We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip,” he said, referring to the Oct. 1 shooting that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more.
The Trump administration was sympathetic to banning bump-stocks, the device that shooter Stephen Paddock used in his massacre, though no word has come from a Department of Justice review announced in December.
“We are defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty,” the President said on Tuesday.
Las Vegas was followed by more shootings, including the Texas church shooting in November that killed 26 people and Republicans repeatedly blamed on “evil.”
Trump also did not address the Texas shooting in his speech, though did mention the Virginia shooting that critically wounded House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Trump also failed to mention the Me Too movement, which has become a cultural force since accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein in October brought many women forward to call out pervasive sexual assault and harassment.
Democratic women wore black to Congress as part of an effort to bring more visibility to the problem on Tuesday, though the issue that in many ways has come to the forefront of American society found no mention in the address.
Trump himself has been accused of groping or sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women, and was elected last year despite admitting to an audio recording where he said he grab women “by the p---y.”
That perhaps explains his relative silence on allegations against other men, though he did target then-Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat, when he was only of several prominent lawmakers accused of misconduct.
The White House also said that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore should step down from his campaign if molestation accusations against him were true, though Trump later came out in support of Moore, who lost, anyway.
Trump has been continuously vocal about what he thinks of the investigation into alleged Russian election meddling, but the preoccupation that has engulfed much of his first year was also absent from his speech on Tuesday.
The President mentioned Russia as a potential adversary on the world stage, but did not talk about the alleged interference or the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which he has called a “witch hunt.”
Mueller’s investigation has delved into Trump’s inner circle, and brought a guilty plea from former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as well as charges against campaign chair Paul Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty.
Reports have said that the President himself is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice over the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Trump’s decision not to mention the investigation likely is a strategic choice, one that mirrors Bill Clinton’s decision to avoid mentioning the investigation that led to his impeachment in the late 1990s.
Richard Nixon said during his 1974 address that “One year of Watergate is enough” and that the proceedings, in which he was an unindicted co-conspirator, should come to an end.
Nixon ended up resigning in August 1974 under threat of impeachment.