Call it Trumpism with a human face.
During Tuesday night’s big joint address to Congress, President Trump showed his same old America First, Last, and Only impulses, but delivered them via a teleprompter, and thus with softer rhetoric. The snap polling suggests the public quite liked the measured man they saw in Trump’s first big speech to Congress. And GOP lawmakers and pundits alike showered Trump with praise for appearing plausibly presidential, for once.
Sure, the only maybe memorable line — “Finally, the chorus became an earthquake” — owes its stickiness to its clunkiness. But these speeches rarely produce quotes for the ages. Looking for one perhaps takes you back to George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” State of the Union in 2002, and then before that Bill Clinton “the era of big government is over’ address in 1996.
But while Trump offers improved performance at these political set pieces, the substance remains terribly lacking. He offered little leadership on reforming ObamaCare or tax reform, both efforts currently floundering on Capitol Hill. He again promised to “bring back” the jobs of an industrial America forever gone overseas or to automation. And he focused once more on solving problems that aren’t really problems. Building walls. Blaming immigrants. Bashing trade. As I wrote not long ago here at The Week, “Trumpism is built around unworkable solutions in search of actual problems.”