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Friday, March 31, 2023

Trump’s address to Congress: Are we being cautiously optimistic or too lenient?

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump gave his first address to Congress. For one of the first times, our president sounded presidential. Reports from all across the media say this was the calmest and most professional our president has been since his inauguration. Some people are praising him for this.

Now, we’re going to pause for a second here and just ask: Why are we praising a professional and calm attitude? Shouldn’t that be one of the first things we look for in a president? Someone who is capable, collected and can address a feuding Congress in a steady manner? Not someone whose Twitter account we keep an eye on and who posts late night rants after Saturday Night Live.

But alright. He was presidential. Perhaps he’s realized this job isn’t something he can take lightly. Perhaps he’s grown tired of being torn apart by social media. Perhaps he’s learned and is starting to grow as a person. Perhaps his public relations person told him to. Whatever it was Mr. Trump, good for you. Thank you, President Trump, for taking your job seriously. We hope this trend carries on for the next four years.

We will also acknowledge that Trump spoke out against the anti-Semitic threats and the shooting in Kansas City last week. We had previously said we were frustrated by the president’s lack of response to the latter. There was still nothing about the acts of violence and vandalism against Islamic spaces, but hey, we’re already congratulating the man for not raising his voice, so we might as well pat him on the back when he does do something to deserve it. Because, perhaps, he has realized that fear and division are no way to win back half the nation. Perhaps he’s realized he needs to work for harmony, as he addressed Congress, saying that he was there to “deliver a message of unity and strength.”

Trump made some claims about health care, saying he would lower costs and make it more accessible, which democrats insisted they had already done. But nonetheless, they applauded at his call to bring down the high price of drugs. There are now some specifics about this whole repeal-replace Affordable Care Act plan, in high contrast to Trump finding it “so complicated” earlier this week. Having a plan is a good thing.

There were these “high” points of the speech —“high” is in quotes because things like not raising one’s voice should be considered a given, and not worthy of praise with any other president — but we cannot ignore the low points. The Washington Post fact-checked 13 of Trump’s claims. Two stuck out to us.

Trump claimed 94 million Americans are out of work. In actuality, it’s 7.6 million, or about 4.8% of the work force. The 94 million is if you include Americans of working age not actively looking for a job: students, retirees, stay-at-home parents, etc. This is one of those fact errors that just can’t be disputed — it’s a number that is documented, and you can’t spout out an “alternative fact” about the unemployment rate.

Another claim he made was that dangerous illegal immigrants are more likely to be violent. But, there’s no basis for that, not even with the tragic story he brought up. The fact is, yes, violent crimes happen, but illegal immigrants are no more likely to commit them than someone born and raised in the U.S. You can’t just pick a story from an old newspaper and dress it up to scare people, especially when the Congressional Research Service reports otherwise, and especially when you’ve been trying to claim unity and strength the whole evening.

Did Trump do a good job with this speech? Comparatively, to his past antics, yes, he did. But let’s remember that being disciplined and professional, while striving to deliver a message of unity and strength, should not be a surprise for the president. It should be an expectation.

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