The State of the Presidency

Last night, he was presidential. For the first time President Donald Trump did not sound like a reactionary with a 72-word vocabulary. He did not trot out a lot of misinformation. He did not bash the media. He did not insult anyone. He did not even use the word ‘I’  that much — preferring to use the word ‘we.’ Just to remind anyone that forgot, I did not vote for Trump. But once he won the election I felt the same way former President Obama and Hillary Clinton felt. He ought to be given a chance. He won the majority of voters in most states — giving him a rather substantial electoral victory. The people who voted for him deserved to let him do what he promised them he would do. I had believed (or at least hoped) that once in office, the enormity of his position would sober him up and that he would become more presidential. But I was disappointed. Those who disagreed with me were right, I thought. Same old Trump. He would continue embarrassing the country.

That’s how it was for the first 30 days. But last night he was a different man. He stayed on script instead of habitually going off script and sounding like a dangerous conspiracy theorist (e.g., the media is the enemy of the American people.) It took him about a month to do so. But he finally did. I only hope the new Trump stays that way. (If only he can stop tweeting at 3:00 in the morning! it would help a lot. Is that too much to hope for? We’ll see.)

Last night, he spoke about his vision for America. He began his address with a forceful condemnation of the anti-Semitic events of recent weeks. And correctly declared that this is a bipartisan issue — for which he was applauded from both sides of the political aisle.

He then proceeded to discuss what his vision for America actually is. Which is no secret since he constantly promoted it during the campaign and after. Much of which is the politically conservative vision of reducing taxes on large corporations. That would incentivize production and increase jobs. He spoke about deregulation which will reduce impediments to those job creators. And it would give coal miners back their livelihoods.

He spoke of strengthening the military by increasing their budget. He spoke of reducing the budgets of other government agencies to pay for it. He spoke about supporting veterans, providing them with better heath care. As well as repealing and replacing Obamacare with better coverage at lower cost to all Americans.

He spoke about favoring school choice — including religious schools as a legitimate choice. He pointed out a young black women in the audience that demonstrated how school choice helped her.

He spoke about supporting and respecting law enforcement and ending the high murder rate in the inner city (which in Chicago is mostly perpetrated by gang members against each other except when an innocent bystander gets in the way). And about crime ridden neighborhoods in general… which — aside from the danger they present — is an impediment to education of young people in those neighborhoods.

He  spoke of support for Israel. He spoke about supporting NATO and forcing NATO members to pony up!

He spoke about protecting our borders from illegal aliens and better vetting procedures of immigrants from terrorist supporting countries like Iran. All well within the limits of a conservative political philosophy.

But it was not all conservative. Some of it was politically Democrat in nature. Like eliminating free trade deals that hurt the American worker. He wants to keep jobs in America. He spoke about fixing the infrastructure of this country which would be paid for in part by the private sector.

I haven’t covered it all. But I think this is a fair representation of what he spoke about last night. He asked Democrats to join him in achieving his goals. There are some areas where he might get that. Hopefully the response by his opposition will be based on substance of his speech last night rather on his past rhetoric or his personality.

There was one moment that got a 90-second standing ovation by both Republicans and Democrats. It was when he paid tribute to a fallen soldier. Here is what the president said — and I believe he meant it:

We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a US Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens,” Trump said. “Ryan died as he lived: a warrior and a hero –- battling against terrorism and securing our nation.”

I have always believed that the real Trump is not the monster so many people paint him as. But because of the way he has behaved ever since he announced his candidacy, I can’t really blame anyone for seeing him that way. I know that last nigt’s performance by Trump will not convince them. But I believe that deep in his heart, I believe Trump actually does care about people.

While it’s true that he is extremely self-centered, I do not believe he is selfish. There is a big difference between the two. He does see himself in grandiose terms. His ego is as big as a mountain. An a tough businessman. But based on what people who know him personally say about him, he is a kind and generous individual who is known to always lend a helping hand to those who need it.

This is a side of Trump that we have not seen publicly. But that doesn’t mean that he is not that way in private.

Selfish people do not produce decent children. Selfish people tend to produce selfish children. If one wants to know the true character of a man — look at his children. Even his rival during the election, Hillary Clinton conceded at one of the debates that he must have been a good parent pointing to his children. I’m sure for example that she knows Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who is a close personal friend of her only child, Chelsea. Despite the ridicule his children have gotten from late night comedians, they are probably more like Mrs. Clinton sees them than the way they do.

I can understand why opponents on the other side of the political aisle will oppose his vision in many areas. But it will hopefully be for ideological reasons and not personality reasons. For better or worse let the focus be on his message and not his past faux pas (deliberate or not) or his antics.

As far as I’m concerned last night was the real beginning of the Trump presidency. The one I expected. It came 30 days late. But better late than never. If he stays on message, stops reacting to criticism with nasty and foolish tweets, then we can move forward. And you never know, he might do some good things as president.

About the Author
My worldview is based on the philosophy of my teacher, Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik , and the writings of Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitcihk , Norman Lamm, and Dr. Eliezer Berkovits from whom I developed an appreciation for philosophy. I attended Telshe Yeshiva and the Hebrew Theological College where I was ordained. I also attended Roosevelt University where I received my degree in Psychology.
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