Wednesday, 01 March 2017 13:43

Trump's first address to Congress defies very low expectations, but says little

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trump congressCongratulations to the White House for pulling off the first of President Trump’s State of the Union addresses. Trump didn’t say anything, new, for the most part, but it was how he said it that was noteworthy. There were complete sentences and even a smattering of syntax. It was marvelous and long overdue.



Since expectations affects perception, and the expectations for the speech were relatively low, its normalcy made it look positively outstanding. The crowd-pleasing lines were there, excepting the ones about locking up former Secretaries of State. Suffice it to say, there was rejoicing in Chappaqua, N.Y. because Hillary is safe for another year.

Nobody passed out Russian flags with the word Trump stenciled on them in gold lettering and hapless PricewaterhouseCooper partners were nowhere in sight handing out their gold envelopes. The Democrats even tried to make a fashion statement by wearing white but all they did was make themselves look like the ghosts they’ve become. Emma Stone didn’t make it there but Best First Daughter, Ivanka, did.

What there anything fresh in the material other than some studies and directives? Practically nothing is the answer. Shortly before the speech, though, the President telegraphed a possible tamping down of Dreamer deportations while holding firm on exit visas for criminals, gang members, and the schemers who need to go. The whole removal exercise that, at its most extreme, nabbed illegals from hospital beds and in their children’s bedrooms as the kids were being tucked in for the night, may have been a ruse, a negotiation ploy, to get people to accept Muslim banning in return for keeping families together and farms, vineyards, and restaurants in business.

The 9th Circuit, recently, told Trump his Executive Order banning Muslims didn’t pass legal scrutiny. That’s not the only problem. Eisenhower tossed a passel full of illegal Mexican aliens back across the Rio Grande. The idea didn’t pan out as expected, however, when farmers faced subsequent labor shortages. Washington’s failure to think that one through led to Guest Worker programs that allowed cheap Mexican seasonal agricultural workers to come here when we needed them most, at harvest.

Many guest workers, however, didn’t see the logic of going in and out of the country all the time and moved in for good, to the delight of their employers. Trump knows all this, of course, and doesn’t want radish futures to plummet so, perhaps, he never intended to throw all illegals out in the first place. The speech didn’t reflect the new softer stance that revised immigration policy but it, presumably, was written earlier than the policy changes so the new thinking may be controlling. Limited humanitarianism, in return for a society free of the threat, real or imaginary, of Radical Islamic Terrorism looks almost reasonable. It’s the best of both worlds to many.

The speech showed that Trump could act presidential and behave himself. There was no yelling or crowing. Even the press got a bye, that’s how conciliatory the tone of the evening was. The angry face stayed in the closet and the President’s suit fit.

There was the obligatory language about an Obamacare repeal with a replacement that’s going to be something so great that not even God could do it better but still no specifics. Crime, drugs, and the wall, all staples, along with lower taxes, more coal, jobs, new airports, railroads, and revitalized inner cities were there, as was a better military and higher wages. Prescription drug costs will fall and Medicare and Social Security will hold steady while women and girls will be empowered. It was pretty standard stuff.

Trump was his usual Macy’s Santa Claus who never mentioned how to pay for all the presents.

The President’s best point, in his own defense, was that the only opinion poll that counts is the Dow Jones Industrial Average and it likes him by at least three trillion more in value than before his win last November. The President didn’t do anything special Tuesday night but he did something unusual. Trump asked all Americans to put aside rivalries and differences. He invited them, with seeming sincerity, to join his crusade for the brighter future he imagines, and he did it without mocking anyone, going rabid, or tossing pointed barbs at his many enemies. It’s a start. We’ll see if it holds.


Last modified on Wednesday, 01 March 2017 15:25
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