THE BIG IDEA: A little humility goes a long way.
President Trump really enjoys talking about himself, his grievances and how he’s never treated fairly. In his first State of the Union address, he showcased other people. As a result, his approval rating is likely to inch up in the coming days.
The businessman who likes to put his name on buildings and declared “I alone can fix it” during his acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican convention spoke less in the first-person Tuesday than in any major address since he came down the escalator at Trump Tower three years ago to launch his campaign.
He used the word “we” 130 times, “our” 103 times and “us” 15 times. He mentioned “the people” nine times. He used the word “I” just 35 times and “my” 14 times. He went with the second person “you” 25 times, though that includes “thank you.”
Trump is a consummate showman, and his stagecraft was top notch. He played the pomp and circumstance to his advantage. The first reality television president seemed to be channeling Mike Deaver, Ronald Reagan’s image guru, by pointing to a bevy of ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.
Reagan began this tradition by highlighting the heroism of Lenny Skutnik in his 1982 State of the Union. The federal employee had jumped into the icy Potomac to save a woman from drowning after a plane crash.
The official White House transcript shows that Trump was interrupted by applause 117 times in 80 minutes. The bulk of those came when the president was praising others: the cop from New Mexico and his wife who adopted the baby of a heroin addict, the victim of torture in North Korea who escaped to freedom and defiantly held up crutches he no longer needs, the Army staff sergeant who performed CPR for 20 minutes and artificial respiration for two-and-a-half hours to save a comrade after an explosion in Iraq. He offered a touching tribute to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who recovered after being shot at congressional baseball practice.
He didn’t whine about “witch hunts,” or even elliptically refer to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, and he made just one passing mention of Russia (it was critical).
— The speech offered a window into what might have been, if he had stuck to script and shown more self-discipline during his first year. Trump’s approval rating could easily be 10 points higher right now if he just behaved the way he did last night, even while pursuing an identical agenda. The speech worried politically savvy Democrats because it suggested that he has upside potential.
Read more at The Washington Post.