When President Trump delivered a speech to Congress free of the obsessions, insecurities, and intemperate attacks that too often characterize his public persona, he deserved praise. The speech (at last) included some of the necessary civilities that we expect from American leaders. He began by recognizing Black History Month and decrying anti-Semitism. For the first time, in my memory at least, he wove references to our founding and to freedom into his remarks. This accomplished two things: It gave the speech a reassuring tone, and it fit Trump into American traditions instead of in opposition to them. Most of all, though one can quibble about whether this was the proper setting, it did permit President Trump to salute a fallen American, and that too is a welcome departure from some of his earlier disparagements of military heroes.
But let’s keep our heads. It was not a great speech. In fact, from a conservative perspective, while there were some good proposals, it was evidence of how much ground has been lost.