Just about everything Trump has said or done during his presidency was reflected in the address. To use a bit of sports terminology, the president left it all on the field.
But despite the statements and overstatements, Trump’s speech was most notable for what it lacked. Call it humility. Or self awareness. Or introspection. What the president failed to do Thursday is what he’s refused to do throughout his presidency: acknowledge the thing that makes so many people dislike him.
“I want you to know that every moment of every day — late at night, early in the morning — I’m always fighting for you,” Trump might have told the nation. “And yes, every so often, that fighting spirit gets the better of me. But I want you to know, America, that every statement, every conflict, every tweet — even the ones I wish I could take back — comes from a place of love for this country, love for its people, and an unwavering resolve to protect them.”
Imagine Trump saying that. It would lead every broadcast. It would challenge every caricature. It would cause voters to sit up and take notice. No such utterance would negate three and a half years of presidential malfeasance. Purely as a matter of political tactics, however, it could succeed in helping certain voters to move beyond it.