Some folks may be swooning over DJT’s Tuesday performance, but theater aside, it was simply what Eugene Robinson describes as “a greatest-hits compilation of campaign promises he has no earthly way to keep.”
And of course, there was plenty of the ugliness that has been on display for the last two years, even if he spoke it in his “indoor voice.” Jonathan Chait calls that out:
The high point of Donald Trump’s presidency to date — the moment when those who desperately wanted to close their eyes and imagine a normal president standing before the country got something resembling their wish — came during his late-February speech to a joint session of Congress. Trump managed to read his address without narcissistic digressions, and the message he delivered (“Nationalism with an indoor voice,” as one White House official put it) would have been obvious to any casual listener. Over and over, Trump blamed America’s problems on foreigners or the willingness of past leaders to accommodate them…
(BTW, the larger subject of Chait’s piece is Trump’s ever-deepening Russian twistedness, more about which comes out every day.)
And this, from Radley Balko at the WaPo:
That Donald Trump is getting bipartisan praise for Tuesday night’s fit of demagoguery masquerading as a presidential address is a frightening demonstration of how his first month in office has left those of who are supposed to hold him accountable timid and shell-shocked. We’ve been conditioned to accept behavior from the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth that we’d never have accepted from his predecessors (and I have pretty low expectations of presidents) — that we’d never accept from a friend, relative, pastor or community leader — as long as he spares us and our group from his attacks.
We need to be better than that.
Trump’s speech included plenty of lies, but they were the same lies that we’re used to hearing from this president. Because there weren’t any new lies, Trump gets praised. The speech was full of fact-free fear-mongering and ethnic scapegoating. But it’s the same variety of fear-mongering and ethnic scapegoating we’ve come to expect from this president. At least he didn’t ratchet up the demagoguery. So Trump gets praised. The speech was shallow and narcissistic. But that’s just who Trump is. It wasn’t any more shallow or narcissistic than, say, his Twitter feed. So Trump gets praised. The alleged magnanimity in the speech for which Trump is winning plaudits wasn’t just transparent and contrived; it was wholly at odds with Trump’s past behavior. His very recent past behavior. As in, his behavior from just hours earlier. But the pundit class has the memory of a tsetse fly. So Trump gets praised.
Yes, there were the many lies, which we have stopped noticing due to their constancy. But maybe the worst of Tuesday night’s offenses was his cynical use of the wife of a slain Navy SEAL as a prop. He seems to think that an ovation makes up for his refusal to accept any responsibility for his role in the needless loss of a brave life.
- The pundits are wrong. Trump’s handling of the Ryan Owens affair was contemptibly cynical. – The Washington Post
- Trump just blamed the military for the botched Yemen raid. That’s a disgrace. – Vox
- A raid in remote Yemen and a SEAL’s death still reverberate for Trump – The Washington Post
…other notable commentary:
- Why Trump’s Call for Unity Is a Lie
- The Worst Performance of Trump’s Presidency Now Belongs to the Press Corps | New Republic
- Grading Trump’s Speech to Congress on a Curve – The Atlantic
- There was nothing ‘presidential’ about Trump’s speech – The Washington Post
- Trump’s speech was a broadside attack on the values of a free society – The Washington Post