That could be a big problem for Democrats. Ever since inauguration day, Trump’s behavior has been so erratic and the actions of his administration so unprofessional, incompetent, and even quasi-authoritarian that his opponents have been able to portray his unorthodox policy agenda (combining multiple items on the right-wing Republican wish list with purely nationalist proposals) as seamlessly connected — and perhaps even the advent of autocracy in America.
But a strange thing happened on Tuesday night. Democrats and other media critics responded to the speech on Twitter with the usual stream of snark and foreboding — except this time, for the first time, there was a palpable disconnect between the claims of the critics and the subject of their criticism. Trump was no longer the would-be tyrant shredding America’s hard-won, cherished democratic norms. He was a president pushing an admittedly unusual and in many ways extreme policy agenda, but doing so while playing by the rules.
The mantra of the past four months — “This is not normal” — finally got reversed. Trump delivered a remarkably normal speech. That in itself is not normal. Democrats better hope it stays that way.