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To most Americans, President Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress was a slam dunk.

Even some of Trump's harshest critics were forced to admit that the former businessman became “presidential” Tuesday night, particularly in the emotional moment that he recognized Carryn Owens, the widow of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens.

While nearly the entire chamber rose in that moment, MSNBC's Chris Matthews — alongside a panel of outspoken liberal celebrities — would soon make it clear that not everyone appreciated the way that Trump honored the slain hero and his wife:

Specifically, Matthews took issue with what he called the “grotesque” moment in which the president praised the remarkable length of the standing ovation given to Owens.

As Trump told Owens following the first round of applause:

“Ryan is looking down right now, you know that, and he's very happy, because I think he just broke a record.”

Bemoaning what he called Trump's “applause meter,” Matthew asked his guest Bill Maher if he also thought the moment was “grotesque.”

Maher replied:

"I wasn’t crazy about the response to that. I wish she hadn’t allowed herself to be used as his prop like that.

And I don’t see any great courage here. Where is the courage? Who wouldn’t stand and applaud for a war widow?"

To answer Maher's question, there were several who did refuse to stand and applaud Owens, most notably former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and ranking Democrats like Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL):

Nonetheless, Maher would not be the only MSNBC guest that night to classify Owens as a mere prop.

Filmmaker Michael Moore expressed similar outrage — saying that Trump was simply “using” the SEAL's widow — while Hollywood director and activist Rob Reiner claimed that it was “disgraceful” for “snake oil salesman” Trump to “use” Owens.

While denigrating an emotional moment like the one Trump and Owens shared Tuesday night might seem to cross a sacred boundary, this type of tactic has actually been in use for decades.

Specifically, it can be traced back to liberal writer and activist Saul Alinsky, who believed in dehumanizing the left's opposition. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it," as Alinsky wrote.

In other words, Alinsky recognized the power that can be achieved when people demonize political opponents so that others see their opponents as 'devils.' As he wrote:

The organizer must become schizoid,  politically, in order not to slip into becoming a true believer. Before men  can act an issue must be polarized. Men will act when they are convinced  that their cause is 100 per cent on the side of the angels and that the  opposition are 100 per cent on the side of the devil. He knows that there can be no action until issues are polarized to this degree.

By attempting to spin Trump's honor of a hero's sacrifice into nothing less than a political “prop,” these celebrity-critics — consciously or not — seem to be following Alinsky's playbook quite closely.

View Comments(131 comments)
Jeff(27 likes)I understand Pelosi, Wasserman -Schultz and Ellison, 2 ignorant liberal skanks and a racist jerk, not standing up.  Bill Maher is a sorry excuse for a tv show host.  I don't watch him because of crap like that.
IntegrityImportant(23 likes)I tried watching Bill Maher once and couldn't take it. All he did was dump on Trump and none of it was funny. Chis Matthews should have been yanked off TV years ago. He never listens to his guests, interrupts them and just generally makes an A$$ of himself. Then there's Michael Moore. Guess he's run out of subjects for a film because these days all he seems to do is diss on Trump too. But that display last night on Matthews show was beyond the pale. Obnoxious and disguesting.  Apparently, none of these dudes are smart enough to know how dissing the acknowledgment of Carryn Owens, the widow of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, looked, how appallling it was. Does anyone listen to these idiots anymore?
Patricia Guenther(22 likes)Perhaps we should have a little discussion about props.  It seems to me there were more props seated on the Democrat side of the chamber that sent a far too remeniscent message.  That wasn't the first time Democrats sat in that chamber dressed in white.  We saw the emergence of a new version of the Democrat KKK, the women's movement.  They are all inclusive as long as you are willing to convince other women that they don't have the same rights as everybody else, have a vagina, and are willing to parade down a city street wearing a representation of said vagina on your head or adorn your entire body as a vagina.  Of course, you must also own at least 1 white sweater or blazer but a white pants suit is the prefered uniform.  As to using this greiving widow as a prop, perhaps.  But, not in the way that is being incinuated.  The American people need to SEE the sacrifices being made by the families of our soldiers, especially the younger generations.  Growing up we watched the Vietnam war unfold right in front of our eyes on the televison screen.  The closest recent generations have come to that is playing Mortal Combat on their video game systems.  Reality sometimes needs props to get the message to sink in!