We’ve heard plenty of talk from Democrats, “never-Trumpers,” and some in the mainstream media about how they cannot allow Donald Trump to be “normalized.” Much of the media coverage of Trump’s first month in office should be understood as an attempt to prevent such normalization.
President Trump has assisted their efforts by not behaving like a normal president. I have in mind his tweeting, his transparently thin skin, and his occasional nastiness.
In tonight’s address to the joint sessions of Congress, however, Trump was a fully normal president. The speech began on a gracious note by recognizing Black History Month and denouncing prejudice as manifested in attacks on Jewish institutions. It ended with similar grace — an appeal for unity and a recognition of our commonality as Americans.
In between, there were repeated calls for solving problems together. And although Trump criticized his predecessor, the speech was devoid of personal attacks, threats, cheap shots, and nastiness.
To read and listen to the mainstream media, you would think that the Trump administration can’t get out of its own way. Trump countered that narrative by listing his administration’s accomplishments in the first month.
More importantly, he did not look like a president who has been knocked off his stride or has lost his way. On the big issues like immigration and health care, he articulated with clarity the principles that will guide his policies. They are principles that I think have wide support (whether his actual policies, once unveiled, will be popular and effective remains to be seen).
The president’s tributes to audience members, especially the Navy Seal killed in a recent raid, were moving and memorable. Ronald Reagan couldn’t have done it better.
When I say that Trump’s speech was normal, I don’t mean to suggest it was average. On the contrary, it was as good as I can recall seeing in this setting. Trump has become a first class orator with what appears to be a quality speechwriting team.
In a post below, John says “it is rare in today’s political climate for a speech to be important, but this one might have been.” I agree.
Anyone who saw the speech will have a difficult time denying in good faith that the speech was presidential. And by giving such a presidential speech, Trump has probably made it difficult for his opponents, including those in the media, to sustain the hysteria that has threatened to engulf his presidency before it could really get started.
Those who watched the speech have to ask themselves whether they believe the media or their own eyes and ears. For President Trump, that’s a very good night’s work.