Thursday, March 2, 2017

President Trump's Address to Congress

President Donald Trump and his political advisors put together a brilliant speech Tuesday night in his address to the Congress. David Brooks on PBS gave him an “A”, and even liberal commentator Mark Shields had to grudgingly give him a  “C+”. Trump touched all the high points of his familiar message but did it in such a fashion as to make even liberal commentators say that he appeared “Presidential.”

He also used with great effect the touching stories of some ordinary Americans who had been invited to attend, a practice used by many previous Presidents in State of the Union messages. Their stories were heart-warming and even heart wrenching. Ivanka Trump must have nerves of steel to stand next to the widow of a soldier killed in the Yemen raid and not burst into tears herself, or at least give her a consoling hug.

I do worry, however, that Trump’s promises may have set the bar too high. If he can deliver on his promises and fulfill his lofty vision for America, he will be one of the greatest Presidents in history. I know it is good to set goals and aim high but now President Trump will have to deliver. I do not think it will be an easy task.

For example, it will not be easy to repeal and replace Obamacare. Maybe Republicans in Congress have already figured it out, but how do you provide insurance for people who don’t want it, or don’t want to pay for it, or can’t pay for it? Can you force people to use tax credits to buy insurance? Can you prevent them from spending the money on something else?

President Trump endorsed the idea of allowing people to buy insurance across state lines but the main reason that medical insurance is cheaper in some states is that claims are lower in those states. A doctor in rural West Virginia has much lower overhead than a doctor in Manhattan or LA. If people flock to buy insurance in cheaper states, eventually premiums will rise in those states as claims rise.

I have to admit that when I hear a brilliant speech delivered by a real pro like Trump, I have mixed feelings. It was hard not to be inspired by his message but at the same time, I had to wonder. Could Trump just be, as some suspect, a con man? I don’t think so. It is more likely that he could be a con man who has been converted by his own message or cause in the manner of film characters such as as Professor Harold Hill in “The Music Man," or Gary Cooper in Frank Capra’s masterpiece, “Meet John Doe." However, both these fictional characters were down and out drifters before they rose to prominence. Trump was a billionaire businessman as well as a celebrity already.

I like to think that Trump is more in the line of a wealthy Renaissance merchant who realizes that he must attain political power not only to preserve and protect what he and his family have gained over a lifetime, but also to preserve and protect the city or country that have done so much for him and his family.

The true test of the Trump administration will be on how much it can deliver. If President Trump can just deliver on a third of his promises, it will be a successful Presidency. Batting .333 is good in any league. I hope commentators will begin to focus on what the Trump administration is actually doing, and not on what they fear he will do.


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