'I'm in Mourning': Obama Speechwriters React to Trump's State of the Union Address

A former Barack Obama speechwriter has said he is "in mourning" over President Donald Trump's State of the Union address, calling it a "fact sheet that was bereft of facts."

Cody Keenan, who wrote Obama's State the Union's addresses while he was president, told MSNBC's 11th Hour Trump's address—in which he listed his achievements while in office—was actually a "really good case" for his predecessor's economic actions.

During the address, Trump said he began the "great American comeback" when he entered the White House three years ago.

"Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results," Trump said. "Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, and our country is thriving and highly respected again.

"The years of economic decay are over," Trump added. "Gone too are the broken promises, jobless recoveries, tired platitudes, and constant excuses for the depletion of American wealth, power, and prestige."

Trump said he "moved rapidly" to revive the U.S. economy from the moment he became president, resulting in the unemployment rate being its lowest in 50 years.

"If we hadn't reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration, the world would not now be witnessing this great economic success," Trump said.

When asked his views about the address, Keenan said the work Obama did during his eight years as president was the bedrock of the current economy.

"Tonight's [speech] basically started out as a fact sheet that was bereft of facts [then] went into the gifts for all the voters he wants this year," Keenan said.

"And then [Trump's speeches] have this tendency at the end of [a] speech to just Google a bunch of historical things that happened in America and try to string them together. As a speechwriter, I'm in mourning for what I saw tonight.

"President Trump really is all about him. It's me first, everybody else second. There's no sense of where we are in the broader sweep of American history, no sense of continuum to our story. It's just what's good for us right now," he said.

Keenan also agreed with 11th Hour presenter Brian Williams that Trump's presidency started out on "American carnage," which was reflected in his speech.

"American carnage, then you have a massive comeback, and then just half an hour later we're back in the darkness.

"I think he sees that as a way to turn out his base, along with what I think was actually a really good case for Barack Obama's economy in the first 10 minutes."

Keenan also made similar remarks on Twitter while discussing how Obama oversaw the country coming out of the 2008 financial crisis during his time as president.

"Almost every single economic statistic Trump bragged about tonight is one that started under Barack Obama," Keenan tweeted.

At the end of Trump's address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up several pages of the speech in a move she described as being the "courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives."

In a full statement, Pelosi said Democrats were told that Trump's address would have a "positive message on health care" ahead of the upcoming federal budget announcement, which he failed to deliver on.

"The manifesto of mistruths presented in page after page of the address tonight should be a call to action for everyone who expects truth from the President and policies worthy of his office and the American people," Pelosi said.

"The American people expect and deserve a President to have integrity and respect for the aspirations for their children."

Reacting to the House Speaker's actions following the address, Obama's former Director of Speechwriting Jonathan Favreau tweeted: "Seems to me like Pelosi took a page out of Trump's playbook and stole the spotlight away. No one's talking about the speech now.

"Anyway, he's gonna be hard to beat. Let's get our s*** together and focus," he added.

The White House has been contacted for comment.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2020. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

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