I was unable to watch President Trump’s speech to Congress in real time but heard it was phenomenal. I watched it the next day, and it was even better than I expected.
There was enough meat in the first five minutes to satisfy a hungry audience of Americans and fuel an extensive column, but it just kept getting better.
I don’t agree that Trump became presidential for the first time that evening as so many opined in chorus, because I think he’s been presidential since his inauguration and also because I don’t subscribe to the commentariat’s superficial concept of presidentiality; to me, it’s not a matter of creased pants but an attitude and reverence for the office.
The speech was powerful and precisely what the American people needed to hear, given the incessant liberal media barrage against the administration and person of Donald Trump since he was elected.
The contrast between this speech and the typical Obama speech couldn’t be greater. Obama’s addresses invariably involved these themes: scapegoating his predecessor and Republican opposition, offering empty platitudes of hope and change with few specifics, acute avoidance of personal accountability, willful blindness and denial concerning the identity of our terrorist enemy, deliberately destructive divisiveness, subtle shaming of America for alleged past and present sins, disrespect for America’s founding ideals, wholesale obliviousness to the notion of the uniqueness of America’s liberty tradition and the very notion of liberty, a dangerously distorted view of America’s perpetual economic malaise and joblessness on his watch, a maddening indifference to our national debt, quasi idolatry toward a mythical and fraudulent consensus about so-called man-made climate change, an overt betrayal of America’s energy industry, a slavish addiction to taxes and regulations as a panacea for our ills, the cruel lie that high-quality, affordable universal health care is achievable, and the disturbing drumbeat of war against America’s corporations, small businesses and entrepreneurs.
President Trump’s speech, on the other hand, was truly uplifting — but not because of eloquent promises of vague future blessings or because it was well-delivered.
In fact, I think observers are placing undue emphasis on Trump’s presidential delivery and demeanor, though he deserves high marks on those. Americans are finally past the point of being seduced by eloquent turns of phrase. They’re looking for real solutions — ideas that work in the real world and not just in the fantasy world of arrogant academic theoreticians. Content and substance are key, not smoke and mirrors — and Trump delivered.
He set the tone with a series of assurances that he is not the bigoted ogre depicted by the mainstream media. Right off the bat, he addressed minorities and the cause of civil rights and laid down a marker signaling that the Republican Party intends to proactively address problems particularly affecting minority communities in the inner cities. He pointedly decried the recent incidents of vandalism against Jewish centers and denounced “hate and evil, in all of its very ugly forms,” and then he segued into expressing a firm commitment — “deeply delivered from (his) heart” — to unify and improve the lives of all Americans through a vigorous renewal of the American spirit.
He dispelled concerns about his allegiance to our allies, underscoring that he honors our mutual relationships but is determined to reinstitute America’s proper leadership role.
Possibly most uplifting to me were his promise to keep America strong and free — concepts you rarely heard from President Obama — and his exaltation of America’s founding principles, all without recriminations toward any group about the lack of fairness or social justice.
To the chagrin of the leftist-dominated Democratic Party, Trump voiced genuine concern for the neglect of our inner cities and the decline of the middle class. He gave us straight talk about the myths Democrats have fed Americans for the past eight years about the economy and jobs, reminding us that millions upon millions of Americans are out of the workforce, food stamps are at a record high and we’ve had the worst economic recovery in 65 years. Americans deserve the truth, and they deserve better.
Unlike his predecessor, Trump did not engage in demagoguery. He didn’t demonize certain groups while promising selective relief for others. He promoted equal opportunity and equal justice for all, irrespective of ethnicity, creed, color or gender.
Refreshingly, he reiterated his commitment to veterans and his unwavering pledge to rebuild our military and our neglected inner cities. Unapologetically, he doubled down on his policy to thoroughly vet people entering this country, properly noting that it was not compassionate but reckless to allow potential killers into our nation. Proudly, he announced his support of the coal and oil industries and his goal of American energy independence.
He promised substantial corporate and middle-class tax cuts to spur economic growth and provide relief for Americans and American businesses. He reassured us that he is adamant about disentangling America from the regulatory chokehold it has been under for decades, and he offered specifics to effectuate that promise.
He restated his priority to restore the rule of law to our courts and our cities, which have too often descended into chaos.
Finally, I couldn’t help but notice Trump’s obviously intended emphasis on reviewing his many campaign promises, detailing his fulfillment of some and dedication to honor the remainder. This may have represented his most marked departure from the Obama era. It was a veritable invitation for us to shine the light of personal accountability on him — something we never saw from President Obama and wouldn’t have seen even if he could have served another five full terms.
President Trump has given us notice that he intends to do what he said he would do and to subject himself to scrutiny on those promises — while calling out those whose singular goal is to obstruct him.
I am not saying the speech was perfect or that I agree with every Trump policy, but I am saying it was a delightfully invigorating, inspiring and reassuring speech — and one that sustains my hope that it is indeed morning in America again.