Trump’s speech

It was well-written, well-delivered, and very powerful. He struck many of the right themes. There was plenty to like about it.

On the negative side, I thought he overstated the nation’s ailments and grossly oversimplified their causes. I’d be surprised if he fully believes parts of what he said and concerned if he does.

The notion that the establishment has enriched itself at the expense of the rest of America contains a kernel of truth. But it is more truthful to say that under current policy many Americans gain and many Americans lose. If policy changes, there will be different winners and losers, and this might well be for the good. But don’t bet on many members of the “establishment” losing much.

This point leads me to what I thought was the worst characteristic of the speech for those of us who want Trump to succeed — his over-promising. Former president Obama (how sweet it is to type these words) was ridiculed throughout his tenure for his riff about the oceans receding. President Trump didn’t go that far, but some of his promises seemed almost as unrealistic. For example:

And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

Really. Did any gangs disband today?

Trump’s core supporters will take statements like this seriously but not literally, as the saying goes. But the rest of America might not be as forgiving.

There was also this:

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

(Emphasis added)

This borders on Obama’s receding oceans riff.

Expect some of Trump’s promises to be thrown back in his face in the coming years. If he succeeds at a Ronald Reagan level, it won’t matter much. But no other president in my lifetime has succeeded at even close to that level.

So it may well be that in a few years some of the promises Trump made today will come back to haunt him.

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