clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vox Sentences: It’s State of the “Uniom” time

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address tonight; Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi is focused on making a political comeback.

It’s time for everyone’s favorite long-winded speech

Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump will deliver the State of the Union address at 9 pm ET. This is technically his first State of the Union, although he addressed a joint session of Congress back in February 2017. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • The speech is a long tradition for American presidents, although it’s taken many forms over the years. Presidents used to deliver these addresses in written form, until Woodrow Wilson upended the format and delivered an actual speech, kicking off a new tradition. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Things got off to a bit of a rocky start on Monday, when it was revealed that the House had printed “State of the Uniom” on tickets issued to attendees. They rushed to reprint ones without the misspelling. [Politico / Heather Caygle]
  • The State of the Union is typically a time for the president to reflect on the past year and the current state of affairs in the US, touching on the economy, foreign policy, and domestic issues. Trump is expected to focus especially on the economy and immigration, two of his main issues. [BBC]
  • But his speech will also be overshadowed by issues that have dogged his young presidency; specifically, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia or whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by firing FBI Director James Comey. [Washington Post / Eugene Smith]
  • A year into Trump’s presidency, there’s a case to be made that American democracy is still pretty strong, as the American court system has kept Trump in check, the Justice Department is resisting him, and there’s a strong new wave of protest movements around the country. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) will deliver the official Democratic response to Trump. This is typically an opportunity for rising stars in the opposing party to deliver their vision for the United States, but the response has a reputation for being difficult and not memorable for the right reasons (think Sen. Marco Rubio’s infamous water bottle gaffe). [Vox / Ella Nilsen and Andrew Prokop]
  • There are four other Democratic responses besides Kennedy’s; one is the official Spanish-language response being delivered by Virginia Del. Elizabeth Guzman, but three more will be delivered by progressives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). [Washington Examiner / Al Weaver]

The return of Silvio

  • At 81 years old, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is poised to make a political comeback, even if he can’t technically run for prime minister for another year (due to a fraud investigation). [NYT / Jason Horowitz]
  • Berlusconi is rather positioning himself as Italy’s new “kingmaker,” brokering political deals with the country’s conservative parties to create a right-wing bloc composed of his Forza Italia party, the right-wing nationalist Brothers of Italy party, and the Northern League, which espouses anti-European Union, anti-immigrant sentiments. [CNN / Hilary Clarke]
  • This coalition is looking likely to pick up parliament seats in upcoming March elections, helping cement Berlusconi’s important political status in the process. This is a huge difference from when he left politics amid numerous scandals and a cratering Italian economy in 2011. [Guardian / Stephanie Kirchgaessner]
  • It’s also setting off fears of a rise of fascism in Italy, the birthplace of fascism. There’s increasing anti-immigrant sentiment, coupled with some politicians calling for a pure, “white” national identity. Far-right politics are undoubtedly becoming more mainstream in Italy, as well as other European countries. [Washington Post / Andrea Mammone]


  • The New Hampshire state legislature is considering a bill that would make it a criminal violation for people to let their ducks and chickens wander onto other people’s properties. Beware, ye with loose fowl. [Associated Press / Holly Ramer]
  • There’s going to be a new player in the health care game, and you’ve definitely heard of its founders before. Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan are building an internal health care system, with massive implications for the industry. [NYT / Nick Wingfield and Katie Thomas]
  • There’s a group of people who enjoy running in a 4.16667-mile loop, completing it in a single hour. Then they do it over and over again until there’s only one runner left standing. Last year’s winner ran 59 loops over 59 consecutive hours. [Guardian / Robbie Lawless]
  • If you’re looking to get out some aggression in a creative way, make like a Marylander and ... joust. The state made jousting its official sport in 1962, simultaneously making it the first US state to make such a designation. [Atlas Obscura / Eric Grundhauser]


“PubMed has almost five times as many clinical trials on male sexual pleasure as it has on female sexual pain. And why? Because we live in a culture that sees female pain as normal and male pleasure as a right.” [The Week / Lili Loofbourow]

Watch this: State of the Union live stream

Watch Vox’s live stream of the State of the Union starting at 9 pm ET. [YouTube / Vox]

Read more

Trump is a hawk. 2017 proves it.

Michigan State still has to answer for Larry Nassar

The disturbing new language of science under Trump, explained

The Cleveland Indians will stop using the controversial Chief Wahoo logo on uniforms in 2019

“I want more than anything to just live my life”: DREAMers wrestle with being used as “hostages” in immigration debate

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.