Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Trump Just Took ‘Telling Americans’ STORIES’ to a Whole New Level
President Trump EPA
The true inspiration for Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech was not Ronald Reagan or Abraham Lincoln. It was Paul Harvey.
His five-minute daily show, “The Rest of the Story,” featured beautifully told tales of individual Americans and the challenges they overcame from a populist right-wing perspective.
Forget the immigration talk and the border talk and the prescription drugs and whatever he said about America’s global challenges.
Trump’s policy is largely improvisational anyway, and there’s nothing he promised or vowed or cited as something America desperately needs that he couldn’t take back tomorrow.
The only thing anyone is going to remember about this speech are the stories he told about the people his administration invited to sit in the Capitol gallery.
Presidents have been using ordinary Americans as tools and props and symbolic representatives of the goodness of the country for more than 30 years.
Trump took it to a new level last night — to a Paul Harvey level.
Those who loathe Trump and those who love him are stirred by the same ad hominem, slash-and-burn, take-no-prisoners style of his Tweeting and his rally speeches — and by the stories of his backstairs-at-the-White-House rages.
So his emergence as a sentimental, feel-good, sob-sister toastmaster was entirely unexpected and all the more effective for it.
Who was not rendered misty-eyed by the story of Ryan Holets, the 27-year-old Albuquerque cop who came across an addicted pregnant woman and later adopted her baby because he heard God calling to him to do so — after which he and his wife named the baby Hope?
Who did not feel sorrow when hearing of and seeing the families of two teenage girls killed by MS-13 gang members — and the family of Otto Warmbier, the college student who was effectively tortured to death by the North Korean regime?
It might seem exploitative to use their grief to advance policy prescriptions, but all three families chose of their own free will to attend the speech so that their loved ones could be remembered.
On and on Trump went, introducing ordinary American after ordinary American and citing the country’s strength and nobility and purpose — and the memory of his bizarre inaugural address about an America awash in carnage seemed to have been delivered by an entirely different person.
(And it was — that speech was the handiwork of Steve Bannon, who is probably sleeping in the doorway of your nearby shuttered storefront right now.)
So maybe this is what Trump should do. He was a TV star. Maybe he needs an actual TV show.
Or, to bring this forward into 2018, a presidential podcast on the model of “The Rest of the Story,” in which he literally does what he did Tuesday night in the State of the Union.
Tell us all feel-good stories about Americans striving to do good, or who want to make a better life for themselves, or who are working to ensure that a loved one struck down unjustly did not die in vain.
I’m serious about this. He has all that time on his schedule that’s unscheduled, why couldn’t he spend five minutes on this?
He has spent so much of the first year of his presidency indulging his angers and going for the jugular, it would do him and the rest of us a bit of good if he devoted a few minutes a day to something, you know, nice?
That stuff was a hit. And you know what you’re supposed to do with a hit in show business?
Give them more of what they want.