In a departure from the norm, Donald Trump in his first address as President to Congress stayed on-script. He was speaking to politicians, and will have been aware that if he is to push through his reform agenda then he needs Congress on his side — and not all of the members of Congress even in his own Republican Party can be relied upon when push comes to shove. This was, in the opinion of some analysts, the most ‘Presidential’ of his public appearances thus far, and some way removed from the dark and gloomy inaugural address that spoke of ‘American carnage’ — a phrase for the ages. Despite the more positive and disciplined tone the address was criticised for the lack of detail and had the fact checkers hunting down inaccuracies, doubtless much to his irritation. All will be revealed as to the Presidential reflections on the matter when he twitters to the world later. The theme was American greatness, a ‘renewal of the American spirit’ and a ‘message of unity and strength.’ For the most part the Democrats looked on stony faced, several with their thumbs noticeably pointed downwards. The Republicans applauded every sentence that was actually complete and reasonably grammatical.
The Great Wall of America got a mention as did Radical. Islamic. Terrorism. Pauses for emphasis notable. No ‘beachhead for terrorism’ will get a foothold in Trump Americanus. All in all it was a more coherent and certainly tidier package than he delivered on the campaign trail but the big question is how the Trump administration is going to both cut taxes and yet spend more money. Details to be revealed at a later date. There were conciliatory notes about cross-party working, the by-now ritual digs at his predecessor, reference but no detail to ‘tragic foreign policy disasters’ — and Obamacare, which is a hydra proving harder than expected to vanquish. With this address the world is seeing a slightly more polished Trump but the messages, all of them, remain much the same. Turning a single speech into political reality is now the challenge ahead. Good luck, Mr President.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2017.
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