It was “the most speech-like speech,” said Brian Williams.
High praise, indeed! I give it a Trump A.
This isn’t grading on a curve so much as it is grading in a deep cave many miles below the curve, but — that is all that America wanted, apparently.
Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress managed to give the lie to two old assumptions: that people who talk about politics for a living care at all about content and that it is possible to elect a person so charismatic that an address to a joint session of Congress will not be dull and formulaic. It may be dull, formulaic and creepy, but it will definitely be dull and formulaic. You can possibly do away with other democratic institutions, but the speech formula that requires you to talk about Several Special Sample Guests Who Are Here Tonight (Please Stand And Clap) will never die.
The good news is that the commentators LOVED it! It was nothing like his inaugural address, where he said mean, bad words such as “carnage” and “tombstones.” On Tuesday night, Ivanka Trump was there and he wore a nice tie and he largely followed what the teleprompter said.
“Not only was he more presidential, he was a politician,” said Martha Raddatz. Hooray!
Yup, Donald Trump spoke to Congress, and he did not bite a live bat in half.
Trump is finally presidential. That is to say, “capable of delivering a boring speech full of meaningless platitudes.”
That, I guess, is all that we meant by the word, all this time. We did not mean anything about values or about ideas or about integrity. We just meant “Can he stand in front of Congress and say something about dreams and America without crying and demanding a juice box?” Yup.
We are passing the torch of truth, liberty and justice, Trump told a joint session of Congress. It is in our hands, said Trump. We will light the world with it, said Trump. What is Trump speaking about? Unity. Where is he speaking about it from? His heart.
We are feeling a greater National Pride, said Trump. (Is there a word for that? The Germans have a word for everything, I think.) Our “American spirit” is being renewed. “A new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.”
We should never have doubted him.
What does he want to do with the country, exactly?
Well, don’t worry. He is speaking in fluid sentences and has not paused yet to mock a former Miss USA or complain about the Fake Media. Do we need to trouble ourselves with these niggling details? They will only upset us and turn Vice President Pence’s smile upside down.
Trump “will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.” (This is what happens when you put “we don’t win anymore” through a thesaurus.)
And when you put the usual story of the Trump electoral college victory through a thesaurus, you get: “The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds -– families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns. But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country. Finally, the chorus became an earthquake.” This is quite the mixed metaphor (some Trump-supporting metaphors look askance at metaphors like that) but also, I think, the plot of the most recent “X-Men” movie?
He listed an exciting agenda, something that these speeches always demand.
He has created many jobs and has started to drain the swamp. (The swamp is almost entirely drained because everyone in it has been offered a job in the Trump administration.)
He has cleared a path for pipelines and made them out of American steel, and he is making the Justice Department form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime. (Its first step to reduce all this violent crime will be to hand Trump an accurate set of crime statistics.)
He will definitely build that “Great Wall,” and “bad ones” are going out tonight. It is amazing how civilized Trump sounds when he lets his dog whistle shoulder some of the speech-making burdens for him.
He got to say Radical Islamic Terrorism. He said that he believed in “free trade” that is “fair trade,” and then he quoted Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln! Why, he almost sounded for a moment as if he knew who Abraham Lincoln was! It was just as good as having Abraham Lincoln there.
We must Buy American and Hire American. And we must protect Americans from Obamacare! If anyone attempts to offer coverage to someone with a preexisting condition, we must interpose our legislative bodies, and quickly! The way he said it, it almost sounded as though here was a plan for doing so.
Trump also added, “I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims. The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement.”
Listen, nothing truly un-American could have an acronym like VOICE. Besides, he said it so mellifluously.
Then he directed our attention to the people he had brought along, including the widow of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. Trump had told “Fox and Friends” earlier Tuesday that some ominous “They” had lost Owens, but now he insisted that everything had been a great success.
And in the entire speech he didn’t use the word “bad hombres” once! It was the Gettysburg Address, by Trump standards. I was so moved that I released a dove and cried.
He concluded on some stirring notes: “We all bleed the same blood. We all salute the same flag. And we are all made by the same God.” (As of next year, this will be a full science curriculum!)
“And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American greatness began. The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts. The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls. And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action. From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears –- inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past –- and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.”
Yup, Trump said words. Words about dreams! Just like the Rev. Martin Luther King, practically.
The facts were not exactly right, and the plans were no less alarming than usual — but they came packaged in such beautiful, coherent sentences. Bravery and freedom, my fellow Americans.
If George Washington were watching, I bet he was shedding proud tears. It was just wonderful. Truly.
Everything but the content.