I don’t have much to say about President Trump’s speech to Congress tonight, beyond the obvious. The speech itself was tremendous, and Trump delivered it effectively, often passionately. It was an interesting reminder of how much better Trump is, as a speaker, than his predecessor, when he sticks to the script.
The speech’s opening was inspired, with its reference to Black History Month and denouncing of recent hate crimes, especially anti-Semitic ones. Trump’s recognition of audience members was superbly done, and the prolonged standing ovation accorded to Carryn Owens, in particular, was unforgettable. The Democrats’ ballyhooed plan to fill the gallery with illegal immigrants fell flat.
Trump’s themes were not new, but the speech wove them together skillfully in a way that made sense, with “America first” the overarching theme. Near the end, Trump said something to the effect that as president, he doesn’t represent the world. He represents the people of the United States. This is tautological, and it was stunning to see the Democrats glumly sitting on their hands. Do they seriously not understand the president’s role, and their own?
That was just one of many uncomfortable moments for the Democrats. Often you could see the wheels turning–should we be sitting down or standing up for this one? Should we applaud? Trump has stolen so many of the Democrats’ talking points that their bewilderment is understandable.
Trump is not, as we all know, a consistent conservative. I don’t know how mandatory paid maternity leave sneaked into the speech, for example. But there is no doubt whose side he is on the large majority of the time. Trump was magnificent tonight. It is rare in today’s political climate for a speech to be important, but this one might have been.
A transcript of the speech, as written, is here.