President Trump hit a grand slam Tuesday night, with the best speech of his life and the most remarkable speech in decades by a chief executive to a joint session of Congress.
It wasn’t formally a State of the Union Address, yet it was bigger: maybe the most-watched speech he’ll ever give, setting out his vision for the nation, in a way that obliged Democrats to stand with Republicans in applause time and again.
Trump mainly stuck to his script — yet a key ad-lib was transcendent. The clapping had gone on painfully long to honor Senior Chief Ryan Owens, USN, the first US soldier to die on an operation OK’d by this president: His widow, Carryn, was plainly in agony long before she could finally sit down.
And then the president turned the pain into something else, noting that Chief Owens had surely just set a new record — the longest applause at any of these speeches. You could see Carryn Owens’ relief. Trump had spontaneously shown the depths of his heart and grace.
He opened with grace, and finished with it. Starting off with a forthright honoring of Black History Month and pitch-perfect comments on the recent wave of anti-Semitism, transitioning to this:
“Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice — in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.
“That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.”
From there he proceeded to look nine years ahead to the nation’s 250th birthday, offering a protracted vow that his time in office will make that anniversary a joyous one.
“From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears — inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past — and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.
“I am asking all citizens to embrace this renewal of the American spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and . . .
“Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America.”
If he can keep this up, the nation is in very good hands indeed.