NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Are Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders capable of ‘coming together’ with Republicans for the betterment of the country?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., listen to the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The scowl on Nancy Pelosi’s face throughout President Trump’s State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night said it all.

While the president was calling for unity — throughout the country as well as between the Democrats and Republicans — the House minority leader’s sour demeanor, like that of an entire block of Democrats at the event, made it clear that unity wasn’t on their minds.

Anyone can find something to criticize in the president’s 80-minute speech — and Democrats and liberal pundits certainly did, from slamming him for the things he didn’t say to making head-scratching reinterpretations of what he did say.

Take the post-address response of Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., for example. He said, among other things:

“This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us. They’re targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection. For them, dignity isn’t something you’re born with, but something you measure by your net worth, your celebrity, your headlines, your crowd size. Their record is rebuke to our highest American ideal, the belief that we are all worthy, that we are all equal, that we all count in the eyes of our law and our leaders, our God and our government.”

Where in the president’s speech did he say anything that not all Americans are worthy of protection or that they are measured by worth or celebrity? Where in this administration’s record is any indication that Americans are not counted equal in any way? Certainly his speech and the citizen-guests he introduced throughout the evening dispute those contentions.

Reciting a litany of accomplishments in his first year in office and listing promises and policies going forward, Trump did what all presidents do in such speeches. And fact checks may dispute claims in any presidential speech that is built with hyperbole and political grandstanding. And we are well aware of this president’s propensity to overstate things, especially on Twitter.

One thing Kennedy said at the end of his response was very true: “Politicians can be cheered for the promises they make. Our country will be judged by the promises we keep.”

Truth be told, this current administration has been working toward keeping its promises in spite of stubborn Democratic opposition and even resistance within the Republican Party. While Republicans cheered and rose to their feet to the president’s cheerleading of the greatness of America, Democrats countered with bitter diatribes, insisting it was a demonstration of racism and privilege and rejection of the poor, the minorities and immigrants.

Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., blasted the president as “compulsively dishonest” and a “bully” during his own rebuttal to Tuesday night’s speech. He slammed the president as someone “who actively represents the interests of the billionaire class, who is anti-science, and who is trying to divide us up based on the color of our skin, our nation of origin, our religion, our gender or our sexual orientation.”

Yet that reaction comes on the heels of these words by Trump: “Tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion and creed. … my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers and America’s forgotten communities. … Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.”

Sanders’ and Pelosi’s reactions to Trump’s mention of the need to come together for the good of the American people tells you everything you need to know about the chances of that actually happening.

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