By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
President Donald J. Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night was refreshing.
No, really. The speech was reasonable, calm, displaying a temperament we don’t often see from Trump. Yes, really.
And it was a big hit with Alabama’s GOP congressional delegation, too.
“(Trump’s) remarks were a refreshing change from the last eight years, and I look forward to working with him on the many priorities discussed,” said US Sen.-For-Life Richard Shelby.
Meanwhile, Luther Strange, US Sen. For-A-Minute, offered this in a statement reported by Alabama Political Reporter’s Brandon Moseley: “It was truly an honor to be part of this historical moment. Like the millions of Americans who voted for real change in Washington, I found it refreshing to hear from a President who is keeping the promises he made to Americans when he ran for office.”
Other members of the delegation couldn’t have been more effusive:
“Tonight President Trump laid out several ways his administration and Congress can work together to rebuild our nation.” – US Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery).
“I enjoyed the optimistic tone of President Trump’s speech … I was pleased the President tonight addressed restarting the engine of the American economy and removing burdensome regulations that have made it so difficult to start and grow a business in America.” – Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville).
“President Trump came before Congress tonight with a clear plan for action on behalf of the American people.” – Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose).
“I was thrilled to hear President Trump lay out his optimistic vision for America’s future. We now have a president that is determined to work on the behalf of the American people first.” – Mike Rogers (R-Saks).
Here’s the rub: Trump didn’t lay out “several ways” to “rebuild our nation” or have a “clear plan for action” or appear “determined to work on behalf of the American people first,” at least not any more than any other president.
What Trump did best, other than using the grieving widow of a slain US Navy SEAL to get extended applause, was not lose it.
There was no name-calling, or direct attacks on the media, or blaming everybody but himself for himself.
The reaction to Trump’s speech shows just how low we’ve set the bar. We’re just happy Trump didn’t come out ranting and bullying, and because he didn’t, he got a good grade for the speech.
But the speech definitely has to be graded on a curve. There were few specifics about how the President and Congress will accomplish much of anything at all. Mostly, there were platitudes and broad brushes.
Some folks on social media recognized exactly that.
“It’s sad . . . we’ve gotten to a point where the President of the United States is now getting praised because he managed to read a speech without wandering off into stream-of-consciousness babbling,” said one observer on Facebook.
Said another: “Somebody wrote Trump a nice rightwing speech tonight. A very average speech by any other President, but he is getting praise for not calling people names and threaten immigrants!”
And then this, from another person on Facebook, about the president’s acknowledgement of a grieving mother: “This ‘longest standing ovation in history’ ma(d)e me cringe — not only because he’s (Trump) exploiting this death for his own political machismo, but because it was a hasty and botched operation under an inexperienced new president, viz., Trump himself, that led to (t)his Navyman’s death.”
Trump is many things, not the least of which is a showman. Yes, these low expectations easily can breed more cynicism, but what, exactly, has this man given us, as both a candidate and a president except low expectations?
At least Tuesday night, Trump was calm. And, as of this writing, Trump’s Twitter feed remains quiet. Really.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.