Donald Trump was perhaps at his most presidential in delivering his first State of the Union address Tuesday night. He appeared to be relaxed, comfortable and in command.
His comments and delivery were measured and delivered with emphasis and confidence, and no more than a touch of defiance. He stuck to issues and policies and their perceived impact on America and Americans. He avoided lingering on the perceived slights of his political opponents and obstructionists.
And he truly delivered a message of togetherness and unity.
While President Trump oversold the effectiveness of the first year of his presidency and painted a rosy portrait of the condition and direction
of the nation, other presidents before him have done likewise. His speech gave us an inkling of what it could be like if he were to stick to this presidential script with a daily consistency. While many would still disagree with his policies, he would be spending time on-point and focused on turning others to his point of view not by threat and bluster, but by repeating the themes of his State of the Union speech: strengthening the United States economy, military and infrastructure.
Immigration continues to be the most emotional issue of the Trump presidency, and his remarks Tuesday night about the deaths of two teenage girls on Long Island at the hands of MS-13 gang members were interpreted by some as a broad indictment of illegal immigrants.
President Trump failed to deliver these remarks
with the nuance to thwart such a reaction.
Some, too, have painted his remarks about the danger posed by North Korea as war-mongering. In this instance, President Trump surely chose exactly the words he intended. His message was clear: The U.S. must speak loudly and carry a big stick.
Since the State of the Union, President Trump has had a couple of quiet days without blasting anyone on Twitter or making an un-presidential comment that offends a large group of people.
It could be that he’s come to understand the need for a consistent, diplomatic, civil approach to his presidency. Or it could be just the calm before the next storm.