President Donald Trump’s just delivered speech to joint session of Congress. Read few comments by experts how do they assess his speech.
John Pitney, Professor of Politics, Claremont McKenna College
The speech was well-written. The recognition of the warrior’s widow was moving.
But the details will be less uplifting. He promised clean water but he is reversing environmental regulations. He promised to fix health care but lacks a credible plan.
There were curious omissions. He did not specify what programs he will cut. And he did not even mention Russia.
Allan Louden, Professor of Communication, Wake Forest University
For those who came to witness the self-inflicted demise of the Trump Presidency came to the wrong place. Gone was the pettiness of campaign past, gone was the inaugural “take no prisoners” tenor, gone was the strident chiding of post-election campaign rallies.
Of course the fact Checkers will have a field day, but that too would miss the import of Trump’s delivered remarks.
In measured tones (at least by Trump expectations) the speech was more about delivering promised actions, putting listeners well-being front and center, and returning to a “sanity” always pinned for in any political time. Rightly, many will argue with specifics implications, even morality, but that risks missing the potentially seismic political shift Trump’s address invites.
The speech needs to be heard as the general audience would hear the speech, not just for omission and wrongheadedness. This is especially true for legitimate critics of Trump, already gearing up for the next election. I say this a bit surprised, as I had not felt affirmative with prior Trump speeches.
Ronald Reagan was dismissed by many who were pretty sure he did not understand Americans. Amazing what a measured tone can do. Amazing how hope rather than doom feels.
Eric Ostermeier, Research Associate, Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, University of Minnesota
If Donald Trump’s goal was to bolster his public image by looking more presidential – his Address to Congress was a resounding success. Unlike the vast majority of speeches he gave during his presidential campaign, Trump largely refrained from editorializing or ad libbing and delivered a speech that was cognizant of the power of and respect for the office he now holds.
Aside from a few non-verbal cues (e.g. pointing at the Democratic side of the aisle when stating the nation must come together), Trump generally struck an even, unifying tone that was free from the sarcasm and flippant remarks that peppered his 2016 presidential campaign. As such, while some of Trump’s policies remain controversial, his even, well-delivered address about his vision for the nation was able to (temporarily) take some of the bite out of his political opponent’s criticisms.
For example, the president’s use of invited guests to highlight episodic personal tragedies of victims of illegal immigration made it politically a little more difficult for opponents of Trump’s policy to gain traction among the American public.
Trump did at times speak in generalities and soaring rhetoric but gave enough specifics on some policies he wants Congress to implement (e.g. investing in infrastructure), to satisfy at least some of the critics who want to know more details of Trump’s administrative agenda.
Because the past year has been so politically divisive it would be next to impossible for Trump to give an address that would be viewed positively by 40 percent of the American public. However, his delivery and content should appease most independents and Republicans to give him some momentum moving forward in the coming weeks.