Trump speech will get graded on style points

We are about a day away from Donald John Trump’s first State of the Union speech and I believe I can anticipate how the media are likely to critique his performance.

You see, the president isn’t very good at reading a speech from a TelePrompter. He prefers to wing it. When he ad libs, he gets, um, a bit carried away. We saw it time and again on the 2016 campaign trail and again after he took his presidential oath.

The State of the Union is a different sort of forum. It traditionally produces a high-minded assessment of the nation’s condition, along with a laundry list of legislation the president wants Congress to enact.

I will be among the millions of Americans who will tune in to watch the president tell us about the “state of our union.” I suspect strongly I’ll disagree with how he likely will proclaim all the success he has achieved in his first year in office. I likely will agree that the state of our union is “strong,” but I won’t buy the notion that the Trump administration deserves all the credit for the nation’s strength and vitality; the president inherited a nation in good condition, no matter how much he tells us about the “disaster” that awaited him.

Let us make no mistake, though, about how the media will assess the president’s State of the Union speech. They will look at his comfort level speaking to the nation from a prepared text. They also will wait for those moments when he veers off script.

The White House has sent signals that Trump plans to take his foot off the pedal just a bit. The flacks tell us the president intends to speak of “unity.”

We’ll see how that goes. I am a skeptic.


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