Forget the “dark” inaugural address. President Donald Trump opened his joint session of Congress in a call for unity – politically, culturally and racially. Donald Trump wanted to make a mark tonight in his first televised address where the live audience is not friendly.
Here are some of the takeaways from the address:
Republicans made sure to rally behind President Trump – Republicans knew Democrats would spend most of their time sitting on their hands. Therefore, when Donald Trump did something that called for applause, Republicans made sure they cheered and applauded loudly. Democrats at times, depending on the issue applauded and Republicans were silent (such as backing away from TPP).
Trump did an excellent job of making the immigration about one of safety. – When he talked about border security, the border wall, and radical Islamic terrorism, he made sure it was all about protecting citizens of the United States, and it is hard to argue with that. Democrats looked a little absurd being silent when the President was talking about national security.
Trump’s call for tax reform focused on competitiveness for business and the middle class. He talked about Harley-Davidson and the issue they have being competitive in the international market because of the tax rates charged to export their motorcycles.
Trump’s call for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending had Republicans applauding. Why? – He loses me on this, and it flummoxes me that Republicans would want to support it. They slammed Barack Obama’s stimulus which was supposedly made up of “shovel-ready jobs.” How is this any different? It will be a bill that is loaded up with pork and won’t create anywhere near the number of jobs he is promising.
Republicans cringed when Donald Trump talked about paid family leave – They should have cringed. It’s another idea that is straight from the Democratic playbook. It is not only not a conservative idea, it is not even a Republican idea. Paul Ryan looked pained as he stood to applaud. It’s an awful idea but one championed by his daughter, Ivanka.
His introduction of Denisha Merriweather was a powerful moment for the advocation of school choice – She’s a young woman that failed third grade twice. She took advantage of school choice programs and will soon be graduating with a masters degree.
Trump circled back around to immigration and identified members of the audience who lost loved ones to illegal immigrants. It was a powerful moment. Trump said to them, “I want you to know –- we will never stop fighting for justice. Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory.”
NATO is back on Trump’s radar as a positive – Trump had said NATO was “obsolete” but apparently discussions with General Mattis apparently got him to change his tune as he said, “We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.” That said, he did reiterate that our NATO partners should pay their share.
Trump, knowing he needed a strong close, finished out with some lofty rhetoric. Normally not heard from him, but worthy nonetheless:
“…when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began. The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts. The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls. And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action. From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears –- inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past –- and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts. I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and — Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America. Thank you, God bless you, and God Bless these United States.