Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Same Trump, Different Circumstances

"Responding to a 'border emergency' by urging the beginning of planning for a 15-year civil engineering project," David Frum tweets, is "rather like saying 'My house is burning! Time to begin the process of calling for design proposals for a new fire station.'"

And so President Trump's address to the nation Tuesday night began and ended with a period or semi-colon rather than with his customary exclamation point, more of a hostage tape than a call for dramatic action.

Frum's colleague at The Atlantic, David A. Graham recognized

The speech was bewildering. Was this stiff oration given by the same man who captured the nation’s attention—and elicited outrage—with his descent down a gold escalator in June 2015, his vow that “I alone can fix it” in summer 2016, or his invocation of “American carnage” in January 2017? It’s hard to believe that master showman was the same person who sat behind the Resolute Desk on Tuesday.

It is the same person whom people misinterpret- Republicans, for strategic advantage- as a "counter-puncher. However, Donald Trump is a puncher, not a counter-puncher.

When he walked down the escalator in June, 2015, he was acting, in contrast both to being genuine and to reacting.  He was brash and bold, promising to help schools, veterans, the middle class, the elderly, Israel and bring back "peace through strength."

Tuesday night, however, Trump was practically a wounded puppy because he is losing.  He knows he does not hold a winning hand, having given up leverage when he boasted that he would be "proud" to shut down the federal government. Tweeting prior to the President's speech, Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono observed "the only crisis that exists is the one he manufactured and the only wall that's real is the one closing in on him."

That's an exaggeration, but only a slight one. The President, having predicted the speech "is not going to change a damn thing," apparently relented because his arm was twisted by communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah H. Sanders, and Kellyanne F. Conway (weakness, as usual).

He'll get back his mojo, of course, for a while. Still, with the walls evidently closing in on him, Democrats should take notice that Trump has been tamed- at least temporarily- and that attempting to cajole, pacify, or appease him will only backfire.

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