President Donald Trump’s first congressional address was a chance for a “reset”. Amid chaos in his administration and seemingly little legislative progress made in his first month-plus in the White House, the President was reportedly seeking the chance to make a new impression on not just the American people but also Congress.
This was reflected in President Trump’s numerous appeals for unity. He declared “the time for trivial fights is behind us” and divisions must be set aside for the good of the country. At issue for the Trump administration is not simply the predictable Democratic backlash to Donald Trump’s presidency but also a divided Republican Party.
It’s unclear whether the President’s address tangibly moved towards inter- or intra-party unification, however. Although a more conciliatory approach and tone was struck in the address, with President Trump mostly sticking to the text of his written speech, he mostly stuck to campaign talking points while proclaiming the populist surge he ushered in and touting his progress on his campaign promises.
The President’s popularity will most likely get a healthy and much-needed boost following the speech, but this is due to the inevitable post-presidential address increase in public opinion and the fact that people will embrace this softer tone. It won’t be because of the policies. Or lack thereof.
There is really very little to analyze from this speech. President Trump offered few concrete plans or details on his plans beyond his increase in military spending, his proposed investment in American infrastructure and his ideas on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
Even on these latter two points there was little to report. The investment in infrastructure may or may not happen, and if it does will be later rather than sooner. There appears to be very little movement or agreement within the GOP on a potential replacement for Obamacare.
Other issues addressed by the President were stricter immigration controls, border security, education reforms, greater support for law enforcement, destroying ISIS and paying down the debt. According to the President these things will happen and happen quickly, and be great successes.
But when and how are open questions. Actual, demonstrable progress rather than words and platitudes.
So there is little to actually say about the speech outside of this concept of “unity” and whether or not the President’s new-found tone is enough to induce some sort of partisan unanimity. Because the content didn’t really change. Neither has the uncertainty.
Donald Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”. Who doesn’t. Tell us how.
Few things to check out regarding President Trump’s first congressional address:
- Fact-checking the speech from CBS News, ABC News, AP and PolitiFact.
- The speech by the numbers.
- Full transcript of the speech.
Here is the full speech:
And the Democratic response:
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