The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump Calms Down, Chills Out, and Rises to the Occasion

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

President Trump Calms Down, Chills Out, and Rises to the Occasion

Raise your hand if you expected Tuesday night to conclude with former Obama administration official and CNN commentator Van Jones declaring, “[Trump] became President of the United States in that moment, period,” said Jones, after the evening’s most emotional point was replayed. “That was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics.”

As I wrote last night, Trump is often criticized as a narcissist, so it’s a bigger deal when he shifts the spotlight from himself and paid tribute to extraordinary Americans, fallen Navy Seal William “Ryan” Owens, who died in a raid on a terrorist outpost in Yemen in January and his widow, Carryn in the gallery.

You can watch that portion of the speech here.

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

I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.”  Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.

If you’re wondering if the moment was an “exploitation” of Carryn Owens, I urge you to read the words of Mary Katharine Ham. Carryn Owens is a grown woman going through a sorrow we hope we never have to face. None of us should be so presumptuous as to tell her what she “should” do at this moment.

Van Jones wasn’t the only former Obama official who came away impressed. David Axelrod, the former Obama adviser, declared, “If I’m on the Trump team, I’m very, very happy with this speech… There will be an afterglow from this speech. He should get a bump in the polls.”

According to the instant polling, the president really defied expectations and left viewers feeling better about America’s future.

Nearly 7-in-10 who watched said the President’s proposed policies would move the country in the right direction and almost two-thirds said the president has the right priorities for the country. Overall, about 7-in-10 said the speech made them feel more optimistic about the direction of the country.

The CBS News instant poll found some Democrats feeling a bit warmer to the president.

While half of Democrats found the speech “divisive,” about one-third of them also said Mr. Trump was “specific” and “knowledgeable”; neither label drew a majority, but nonetheless sizeable numbers compared to the more negative reactions Democrats have had to other aspects of his presidency.

And viewers of all stripes described the speech as at least somewhat positive in tone.

Overall, most watchers approved of the speech. Republicans did tune in to watch it in much greater numbers than Democrats (as a president’s party typically does) which bolstered those approval numbers. Forty percent of Democrats at least somewhat approved; 18 percent strongly approved.

Philip Rucker, White House Bureau Chief of the Washington Post: “This is the best morning of Donald Trump’s presidency. He is basking in positive pundit reviews. All that tumult feels like yesteryear.”

Powerline’s John Hinderaker: “Trump is not, as we all know, a consistent conservative. I don’t know how mandatory paid maternity leave sneaked into the speech, for example. But there is no doubt whose side he is on the large majority of the time. Trump was magnificent tonight. It is rare in today’s political climate for a speech to be important, but this one might have been.”

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