I have now heard it said multiple times by various television and online journalists and commentators that last night Donald Trump became the president of the United States while delivering his first address to the two chambers of congress.
February 28, 2017 will go down in history as the day that individuals from both the right and the left suddenly acknowledged that in the five weeks since inauguration day, Donald Trump had evolved from the president-elect to the commander-in-chief. The man who at first appeared a little ill at ease wearing the mantle of the presidency was now proudly sporting the coat as if it were tailor-made for his frame.
A transformation of sorts had taken place, and everyone who witnessed President Trump’s speech to congress could perceive the palpable metamorphosis. The actual content of the speech was not all that different than that of the speeches which he delivered on the campaign trail or during his first weeks as president. The difference was in the tone of the message.
While Trump’s signature humor was still present, his informal-at-times brash communications style had been nuanced to reflect the solemness of his office, the venue, and the occasion.
Last week President Trump participated in a White House interview with the Fox and Friends team, Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt in which he stated that while he gave himself an “A” for effort and an “A” for what he has accomplished so far, he only gave himself a “C” for communication. When asked by The Fox & Friends team how he would go about improving his messaging, he said that they might see the new messaging in his address to congress. President Trump clearly kept his word.
The speech, which was interrupted by applause 94 times, had many strong moments. The most poignant of which was President Trump’s address to Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens:
“Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom — we will never forget him.”
President Trump delivered these poetic words as Mrs. Owens, who was seated next to President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, looked up to the heavens. This particular communication, which was followed by a two-minute standing ovation was reflective of President Trump’s capacity for empathy, a quality which is not often highlighted by the media. But as they say, one picture is worth a thousand words.
President Trump also spoke boldly reiterating and reinforcing his “America first” mantra. “Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States,” President Trump remarked. “We are also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism,” he added. According to many pundits, President Trump is the first U.S. president to ever use the words “radical Islamic terrorism” in a comparable forum.
President Trump’s speech was also extremely optimistic. He frequently referenced his determination to deliver upon his promises to the American people on the security, economic and policy fronts. And of course, he cited his intention to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” He also stated his hopes that his Supreme Court pick Judge Neil Gorsuch would be swiftly confirmed to replace the late great Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump also acknowledged the presence of Justice Scalia’s widow Maureen in the audience.
President Trump’s speech was positioned as an attempt to unify the country. To that end, partisan commentary was kept to a minimum. “The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.” The aforementioned sentences represented the battle cry to end the battles which divide congress. In essence, he was saying that now is the time to work together so that we can execute on the legislative and policy agenda to improve the quality of life for the American people.
The speech was forward-looking with President Trump making reference to America’s 250th anniversary in 2026, saying “when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.”
So now we have it. President Donald Trump is documenting his legacy as our nation’s 45th president. His first speech to the joint chambers of congress represents his blueprint for accomplishments. Trump’s pinpointing America’s 250th birthday, which is a little over nine years away, also shows that he is fully confident already that he is going to be re-elected for a second term.
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