I would like to congratulate Donald Trump for proving to the American people last night that he can read a teleprompter. Other media outlets, however, would like to congratulate our tiny-handed schoolyard bully for growing up and becoming a real president.
Rather than talking about “American carnage,” as he did during his Inauguration speech, Trump said hollow but nice-sounding things like, “I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.” The New York Times noted that in his words, “Mr. Trump brandished a blunter rhetorical ax and, for once, delivered on his promise to speak the Reagan Republican dialect of optimism and reconciliation.” Trump also condemned the attacks on Jewish cemeteries and the Kansas City shooting (though he didn’t address the anti-semitism, racism, or xenophobia that caused it), and offered support (albeit, conditional) to NATO and international allies.
But almost every major claim he made was false or inaccurate, and Trump is plowing forward with his white nationalist agenda. During the speech, Trump also announced that the Department of Homeland Security is creating an office to serve “victims of immigration crime,” targeting immigrants even though they are statistically less likely to commit a crime than a US citizen. But hey, Trump sounded sort of sincere and that’s what matters, right?
CNN’s homepage this morning looked like it was edited by Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway:
CNN’s Van Jones, a noted Trump critic, conceded that Trump “did something extraordinary” by paying tribute to Navy SEAL Ryan Owens during the speech. But don’t forget that Owens died in a botched raid in Yemen that Trump himself authorized and later blamed on the military. Therefore I fail to see how Trump’s behavior is, as Van Jones says, “one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period.” Politico asked, “Was this the Trump that could win in 2020?” and, based on the positive press, the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker mused: “All that tumult feels like yesteryear.”
Yesteryear?! Do any of these political pundits want to call up the alienated Muslims, Jews, LGBT people, undocumented immigrants, and women under threat and tell them to stop worrying because hey, “all that tumult feels like yesteryear!” It was just yesterday that Trump insinuated Jews are responsible for desecrating their own cemeteries. It was five days ago Trump called the press the “enemy of the American people” and vowed to “do something about it.” It was just over a week ago that he manufactured fake terrorist attacks in Sweden to justify the Muslim ban, while it took him until last night to condemn the Kansas City hate crime that left one Indian man dead. It was two weeks ago that he called disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who misled White House officials about discussing US sanctions with Russia, a “wonderful man” who was “has been treated very, very unfairly by the media.” It was three weeks ago that he insulted a federal judge for ruling against his immigration ban, and just over a month ago that he fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for choosing to abide the law over him.
“President finally speaks like a president after 40 days of being a president” is perhaps newsworthy, but it is NOT an accomplishment. It took this man 40 days on the job to speak with the decorum he should have been demonstrating since he walked onto the campaign trail over a year ago. That’s like if a guy wore flip-flops and chubbies to a series of job interviews with Goldman Sachs, somehow got hired anyway, and then received a standing ovation when, one month into the job, he clued into the fact that maybe he should be wearing a suit to work. Even White House staff can’t believe the media is getting distracted by the smoke and mirrors:
It’s willfully naive to think that, at this point, Trump is about to become the great unifier. It’s that kind of “let’s give him a chance!” rhetoric that got him into the White House in the first place. Trump’s speech was the eye of the storm—a very catastrophic storm—that will purge America of undocumented immigrants and Muslims, cripple voting rights for minorities, turn the Department of Justice against the most vulnerable, destroy the EPA, end the public school system, incite violence and hate crimes against people of color, start marching military down the streets in an overt show of power and force, strip safety protections for workers across multiple industries, deny women legal access to reproductive health services, and more. If his address to Congress was a historic moment, it will be historic because it was the moment Trump’s bigotry became “presidential” and the American people stopped resisting.