President Trump took time to honor the parents of the late North Korean captive Otto Warmbier in his wide-ranging maiden State of the Union address last night. Warmbier was a 22-year-old student who was arrested in the communist state for attempting to steal a propaganda poster. He was imprisoned for over a year, and was reported to have been severely mistreated.
By the time Otto was released in June 2017, North Korean authorities revealed the young man had been in a coma for months. A series of MRI scans obtained from the North Koreans showed that Otto had suffered a severe brain injury, likely caused by a starving of oxygen, though the cause of this was never determined. Otto was in a “persistent vegetative state” for over a year whilst in captivity. He never recovered and died at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on June 19, 2017.
“There is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition secret, and denied him top-notch medical care for so long,” Otto’s Father Fred said at the time. Fred and Cindy Warmbier attended the State of the Union address on Tuesday and were personally addressed by the President of the United States.
“Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea,” President Trump explained during his address.
“At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return.”
“Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight — along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta,” Trump continued. “You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with American resolve.”
President Trump has long been a fierce critic of North Korea and has been committed to attempts to curtail the brutal communist nation. Trump has been very clear about the threat that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities pose to the wider world, and used the State of the Union to hammer home the need for America to lead the fight against this tyrannical government.
“No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea,” he said. “North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland.”
Trump continued: “We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.”
The President also warned of the danger America faces if it chooses to diplomatic ground to Kim Jong-un and his government.
“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation,” he said. “I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”
Glad to hear mention of the brutal death Otto Warmbier suffered at the hands of the North Korean regime. And glad to see his parents present as well.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) January 31, 2018
“We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies.”
Trump’s first State of the Union address was met with high approval ratings. CBS News says that 75 percent of Americans approved of the speech. Just a quarter of those who tuned in and took the poll disapproved of the President’s words. Eight in 10 Americans who viewed the speech and took the poll said they felt the president was trying to unite the country with his message, according to CBS.
Plus, two-thirds of poll-takers said the speech made them feel proud. However, most of those viewers were Republicans. When it came to Democrats, as you’d expect, it was a very different story. Over half of the Democrats that tuned in said the speech made them angry – which is in stark contrast to the 90 percent of Republicans who said it left them feeling proud.
Trump took a moment to emphasize the booming stock market figures. “Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8tn in value. That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts,” he said.
This is obviously brilliant news for Wall Street, but does it benefit the rest of the population as much as he would like regular Americans to believe? “The stock market is not the economy,” wrote Alan Yuhas at The Guardian. It does “not reflect marginal wage gains and growing inequality.,” he added.
“A Federal Reserve report published last year, for instance, found that the wealthiest 1% of American families controlled 38.6% of the country’s wealth in 2016.”
Most would agree that it has been a pretty good start for the President, but there is a long, long way to go.