“Teleprompter Trump” stayed on message last night, carefully reading the scripted rhetoric provided by some talented speech writers and milking — as any good media pitchman would — key message points that produced rounds of standing ovations from GOP lawmakers.
For a little more than an hour, Trump acted in his Bully President style, smirking at times while soaking in the applause from Republican acolytes and staring down the silent side of the audience where Democrats mostly sat on their hands.
He talked about Black History Month and expressed anger about the recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents around the country. He alluded to accepting the torch of liberty and lighting a message of unity and strength “from my heart,” not only in the United States, but around the globe. He touched on all his campaign promises: making America great again; spending billions of dollars taking care of our country not the world; bringing millions of jobs back to America; removing regulations to jump-start a massive economic revival and, of course, building the “Great Southern Border Wall.”
Trump’s recognition of Ryan Owens, the U.S. serviceman killed in a recent botched Yemen raid, is being viewed by many commentators as a jumping off point for righting his flailing administrative ship and pointing him toward a successful re-election bid in 2o20. Owens’ widow most certainly deserved a public salute, a thank-you to her slain husband for his sacrifice for our country, and the Democrats joined in the moment.
Now we have to wait and see if this “pivot,” as many broadcast commentators and analysts labeled it last night, this “Teleprompter Trump,” is the real deal or if the Bully President’s nonsensical ravings of his lunatic mind (apologies to Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein) will continue to define his term in office.
Just hours before his Tuesday night talk, for instance, “Twitter Trump” attempted to blame President Obama for the failed Yemen military action and for all the White House leaks. What? In case you didn’t notice, Mr. Bully President, the Obamas left Washington, D.C. more than a month ago. You approved the raid; it’s your staff that is filling reporters’ minds with just how bad your administration is and how you and your Republican cohorts are doing everything in your power to keep the Russian influence scandal from reaching Watergate proportions.
In the aftermath of the Oscar night flub, the Bully President issued another nonsensical raving from his lunatic mind, claiming the botched best film announcement occurred because of all the focus has been on attacking him. Really? From what self-centered, ego-laden universe did he arrive at that thought? The error was explained in simple terms, and had nothing to do with politics distracting the envelope handlers. It was a simple mistake, although an embarrassing one for the accounting firm that tabulated the results.
Then there was the somewhat amusing, nonsensical ravings tweet that the Bully President found dealing with health-care coverage for all Americans “so complicated.” Oh right, he never has had to deal with trying to figure out how to secure affordable and understandable policies to ensure a diagnosis and subsequent treatment program that won’t bankrupt his family. He’s never had to wade through phone calls, emails, snail mail correspondence with health-care providers, only to discover that he’s still saddled with astronomical medical bills that threatened his financial well-being.
Then there is the issue of his tweeting about adding $54 billion to the military’s budget of more than $500 billion. This, along with a tweet about how American soldiers “no longer fight to win” is more evidence of a mind bent on nonsensical ravings.
Let’s address the last tweet first: Any soldier serving in harm’s way overseas really wants to hear the commander-in-chief criticize their commitment to representing our country on the battlefield. Nice morale- building tweet from the Bully President.
With respect to that $54 billion add-on for the military. Any highly successful CEO — not one who has filed bankruptcy four times, stiffs contractors for millions of dollars for work completed, and settles lawsuits to avoid large jury awards — knows that before you throw good money after bad, you thoroughly audit what’s happening in your organization. The Bully President said on the campaign trail and during his first 41 days in office that the military is no longer the best fighting force in the world. It needs to be made stronger.
If spending more than $500 billion doesn’t deliver a lean, mean fighting machine — the best in the world — something is wrong at the Pentagon. The Joint Chiefs need to sit down, take pen to paper, and figure out why nearly half a trillion — that’s trillion with a t — is not enough before taking an additional $50 billion in taxpayers’ funds and throwing it at whatever problem plagues them at the moment. Just renegotiating a jet fighter contract is not going to do it.
In the movie Dave, Kevin Kline’s title character as acting president of the United States, enlists the help of a friendly accountant — played in his usual droll style by Charles Grodin — to trim a few hundred million off the federal budget in order to maintain funding of a social service safety net program supported by the First Lady (hats off to Sigourney Weaver). Kline called his Cabinet to order and showed them how they could cut some funds in each of their departments to support the program.
If Hollywood can script it, surely a real life president and his administrative cohorts can sit around a table with the Joint Chiefs and find $54 billion in savings in the bloated military budget in order to preserve key educational and environmental programs that will keep America great for generations to come and maintain its position as the leader of democracy around the world.
A “teleprompter speech,” carefully scripted to appeal to political supporters and delivered to a prime time viewing audience might be the start of a real presidency. But this Bully President has shown us too many times that early morning tweeting best illustrates his mindset and what’s in his heart.
It’s not presidential and definitely not a unifying spirit.