President Trump got generally good reviews for his address to congress Tuesday night.
According to various surveys, Trump’s supporters loved the speech, not surprisingly, but even a majority of Americans polled who watched said they felt more optimistic having heard it. His tone was surprisingly upbeat and uniting, except for those who don’t believe a word he says. One Democrat described it as “same lies, different tone.” I’d say the same B. S, but different tone, but let’s not quibble.
Still, the difference in tone was significant, presidential even, and the positive response to the speech of many confirms that. But can this tone be kept given his temperament amidst a hostile political environment? Furthermore Trump keeps making sweeping promises that seem impossible to keep because congress will have to get behind them and congress is divided, not just between the two parties but within each.
First: Trump’s agenda is budget breaking – no, budget exploding – and many in the Republican party have built their careers on criticizing government for over spending and accumulation of debt. Second: The senate barely has a Republican majority, so only three Republican “mavericks” are needed to block any of Trump’s agenda, and Lindsay Graham and John McCain have indicated opposition to several of Trump’s proposals, so that’s two right there. Third: There are all those Democrats to deal with.
However, while the Democrats figure to offer opposition often, they may be easier to deal with at times then the Republicans. The Democrats seem split as to whether to resist all that Trump proposes, as the Republicans did with President Obama, or to just resist some things and work with him on others, like tax reform and/or building infra-structure.
Even though Trump’s selection of a generally conservative cabinet and a supreme court nominee has pleased the right, I think in typical Trump fashion he is only committed to himself and his need to appear successful. If Republicans resist and deals can be made with Democrats I can see him making them.
And I might even like one here or there. I’m not one of those resist-everything liberals. I disliked the Republican party identity being reduced to being the Un-Obama party and I don’t want to see the Democratic party follow suit with Trump.
But no matter how it shakes out, Trump’s fantasied future faces a number of reality checks down the line. And I will be curious to see what his free lunch is going to cost and who will be willing or forced to pay for it.
P. S. – For those who want to read a good analysis of Trump’s speech, I suggest this piece by Cathleen Decker in the Los Angeles Times. She sums up the essence in one sentence.
“Trump shifts from doom-and-gloom to a more optimistic vision. But he offers no clarity on how he’ll get there.”