When your kids finally act like members of the human species over dinner, you go out of your way to compliment them. How grown up they’ve been! When the dog that will jump and hump any goddam leg in range keeps to himself for a minute while guests are over, you praise him. What a good boy! Why? Because you want to encourage further good behavior and you’ve been trained to put up with bad behavior.
And so when the kids and dogs do what they are supposed to do, you act like they are friggin’ saints. And then they think that they deserve praise for doing the minimum. (Chris Rock had a fabulous version of this insight – but it’s got some… uh… language.)
Well, you know where this is going. President Trump’s address to the Joint Session of Congress did not involve any egregious lapses of rhetorical judgment, overt antagonism or any ad-libbed lines beginning with ‘believe me…’. It was still filled with dopey lines like, promoting “clear water” (just after ordering the repeal of the CleanWater Rule), and “We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.” And “And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.” Yeech.
Moreover, Trump’s speech was all over the place argumentatively. Just take for example the fact that he rebukes the Democrats with the line
The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.
But then he just rolls into the cadence-windup for the big finish. Not a well-written or well-delivered speech. Not inspiring or clear about what or how things will be done. But not an hour of blustery windbaggery or braggadocio. He stopped being the cartoon villain. And so the pundits fell all over themselves with praise:
He became President of the United States in that moment. Period.
Said Van Jones on CNN. Tom Brokaw said his presentation was
Tonight, this is easily the most Presidential he’s been.
And that’s just the media folks. Breitbartians have been reporting that there has been a wave of “positive reaction” to the speech. And so that’s where we are, folks. We’ve gone from Obama’s standard to just being Presidential.