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Cornell University Professor Gives a Mixed Review of President Trump's State of the Union Address

W. McNamee
Getty Images/AP via

A professor of government at Cornell University has mixed reviews of President Trump’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night. Professor Elizabeth Sanders says that Trump’s speech was successful overall, but his sincerity is still in question.

"For Trump I thought it was a good speech.  The big question is whether he means it and whether he will put some kind of mobilization skills to work, which he hasn't demonstrated before, to get his own party and segments of the other parties to support these things." 

Sanders credits much of Trump’s success to his reinforcement of old policy issues, as well as the introduction of some new ones- such as prison reform

"I haven't heard him endorse that before. There are a number of republicans who are now supporting that from the point of view of rehabilitation and saving imprisonment costs and general fairness. So there is some support in his own party for that, but to have him endorse it was a bit of a surprise." 

Along with her surprise came disappointment. Sanders says the speech fell short on foreign policy, especially considering the nation’s growing tension with North Korea.

"He could have said something to be a little more reassuring to those of us, perhaps a lot of Americans worry about his nuclear policies, and he really is too frivolous about it, as was Ronald Reagan in the beginning.  But Reagan got pulled back by the public itself and that may happen to Trump, one could wish." 

Along with these concerns, Sanders adds that immigration is still the most complicated policy. She says it’s discouraging that Democrats aren’t budging on Trump’s offer of DACA in exchange for greater border security. Sanders says the response to Trump’s speech indicates there’s even greater party polarization, and that no real progress is likely until compromise is made.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at