Trump, Red in Tooth and Rhetoric

By David A. Graham

Hidden just slightly beneath the surface of Donald Trump’s rather dull first State of the Union speech was another, darker speech—unusually dark for a peacetime address of its type.

As I wrote in an analysis Tuesday night, the speech was long and fairly conventional, especially for an unconventional president. Trump went through the motions of calling for bipartisanship, but the moments when he reached for inspirational rhetoric felt strange and disorienting.

That’s because darkness is the president’s default political mode. Pundits (and former presidents) found Trump’s inaugural address, with its talk of “American carnage” startling, but as the State of the Union demonstrated, it’s much stranger to hear Trump reach for brightness.

“Americans fill the world with art and music,” Trump said toward the end of the speech. “They push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of what we should never, ever forget: The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it’s the people who are making America great again.”

With the exception of the last line, this was a sort of rhetoric rarely, if ever, heard from Trump. Yet in between the inspirational flourishes of the start and finish of the speech, and after a stout plea for credit for the booming economy, the address was filled out with dark and even bloody imagery.

Trump made liberal use of Lenny Skutniks, the invited guests who presidents use as foils for particular portions. Like the original Lenny Skutnik, a hero who rescued victims of a D.C. plane crash shortly before the 1982 State of the Union, many of Trump’s were heroes of disasters, whether natural or man-made: A Coast Guard petty officer who saved lives in Hurricane Harvey; a firefighter who combatted the California wildfires; a North Korean defector; the parents of a …read more

Via:: The Atlantic


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