I am not sure who wrote President Donald Trump’s address to Congress speech delivered Tuesday night but, dang, that was some speech.
I wasn’t even planning to watch it, to tell the truth. Watching a Trump speech has always made me nervous, especially when he’d jump off script and say something blustery and a little dumb.
But Tuesday night, I stood in front of the TV at 9 p.m. ready to do something else when the special report started, so I thought, well, let’s see what happens.
And what happened was, minute by minute, I stood, then sat in front of the TV, mesmerized by Trump’s words.
For an hour, our president made me proud of the presidency.
Trump said the words his predecessor was too timid to say: “Radical Islamic terrorism.” Since more than 80 percent of the world’s terrorism is carried out by Islamic extremists, telling it like it is was refreshing.
He said a lot of other things during the hour that were surprising. For the first time in years, a U.S. president made it clear that his priority was to be president of the United States first.“My job is not to represent the world,” Trump said. “My job is to represent the United States of America.” About time.
He backed away from nothing. That is what impressed me the most during the hour. He said he will build a wall. He said he was going to repeal and replace the dreadful Obamacare program. He said he wants to strengthen our immigration vetting system. He said he wants to overhaul the tax code to reduce taxes on companies and have major tax cuts for the middle class. And on and on.
What was most uplifting was the president’s tone of optimism and “believing in America.”
All evening, the Democrats in the audience sat silent, and only a few of them from time to time rose to applaud something that, had they not, would have caused a lot of heat “back home.” A few of the Democratic leaders in Congress, you know who they are, sat with sour faces that reminded me of pouty spoiled five-year-olds who were just told their candy was being taken away for being bad children … and this time mommy means it!
And when our president talked about programs helping women in business and supporting paid family leave, the baffled looks on faces of Democrats like Elizabeth Warren were … precious. “Wh-wh-wh-what did he just say? Should we … should we applaud for that?” But by that time, the moment was lost, and these liberal Democrats mostly sat silent over the idea of paid family leave. Wow.
There was rudeness that I am happy to say our president basically ignored. Some Democrats all dressed in white spent most of the evening Tweeting on their cell phones and making thumbs down gestures. Nice.
But our president tried hard to reach across the aisle for compromise.
Looking straight at the sitting-on-their-hands Democrats in the audience, Trump threw down the gauntlet of getting along for the good of America: “We are one people, with one destiny. 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.”
For me, the greatest moment of the evening was our president’s recognition of Carryn Owens, the widow of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who died during a Jan. 29 raid in Yemen.
Trump said Ryan Owens died “a warrior and a hero,” with Mrs. Owens looking on in the guest balcony with tears in her eyes. The audience stood with more than two minutes of applause. Trump peered up at Carryn Owens and said: “Ryan is looking down right now. You know that. And he’s very happy.”
Later on CNN, commentator Van Jones, of all people, called this an incredible moment and, amazingly, said Trump looked very presidential. Jones then added something even more amazing. He warned Democrats that they needed to get beyond this idea of doing nothing but opposing Trump, “especially when he is right.”
What? Did I hear that correctly?
I agree with Jones, who on Wednesday was catching some heat from fellow liberals for his remarks. That’s a shame.
Our president Tuesday night gave an optimistic, uplifting and unifying speech that could ease the divisiveness and anger in our country. But I fear that many of the people that should have watched the speech didn’t watch the speech.
Many of that 50 percent of people who didn’t vote for Trump and still hate that their candidate didn’t win — and that includes many in the news media — just refused to watch.
Ironically, I suspect that most of the people who refused to watch the Trump speech would have loved the same words if spoken by the former president (maybe with the exception of that part about “building a wall” and the line about radical Islam). I’d love to see newspapers across America devote space to printing our president’s speech in its entirety, urging readers on both sides to consider what the president is urging.
The president’s speech Tuesday thrilled me because of his language and tone of hope. He reached out to Democrats to come together and work toward a great America again. The ball is their court now. I hope they, and those voters who oppose Trump, will indeed put these trivials aside and bring our country together.
Thank you, President Trump, for reminding us that we need to look forward, not fume about the past.
Gary Brock is a resident of Fayette County and editor of the farming/agriculture publication “Rural Life Today.” Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him what you think.