The President’s first speech before Congress is what you would expect from a fighter on the ropes trying to make a comeback. Most came away with the idea Trump acted more presidential. I came away with the idea that he “acted,” period.
Trump’s tone, normally pretentious, was less so, but his message remained the same. He called for increased border security, denounced undocumented immigrants, pledged to rebuild the US economy, seemed to support NATO; providing the pay their fair share, and for once his message was not barked, but spoken.
Trump pledged to make American communities safer and condemned the recent vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and the Kansas shooting that left two men from India dead. He also honored the widow of his Administration’s botched raid in Yemen than cost the life of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, bringing tears to the woman’s eyes and applause from both parties of Congress.
He railed against the Islamic State promising to “extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,” which also brought him loud applause.
He was light on actual policy and his remarks were well seasoned with clichés, though he did lay down some priorities, such as overhauling healthcare, fixing a crumbling infrastructure and reiterating his support for border taxes.
Democratic lawmakers, for the most part, sat in silence despite Trump’s call for the two parties to unit for the common good.
The Democratic Rebuttal came from former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear,who said solutions were needed for the good of the whole nation.
Beshear said his party is troubled about having an administration filled with billionaires, and the president’s roll back of financial industry safeguards. Most of his comments centered around the healthcare.
Before the Affordable Care Act, Beshear said, poor Americans “woke up every morning and went to work, praying they wouldn’t get sick; knowing they were just one bad diagnosis away from bankruptcy.” He said the Democrats would work with the president and his party, but expected them not to reneg on their commitment that every American deserves healthcare they could afford and rely on.
The President did himself no harm in his first prime-time speech, and must have walked away feeling he had accomplished something, but history and the American people will be the judges of that in the months to come.