By Fritz Schemel ’17
After the President’s address to Congress last week, pundits declared that Trump “became President in that moment” and had given the best speech of his political career.
These pundits are right. Trump’s speech was by far his most presidential, policy-oriented speech yet. He hit on many aspects of the House GOP’s “A Better Way” agenda, and won the night with a heart-wrenching tribute to a slain Navy SEAL and his widow.
However, before granting too much praise, Trump’s actions need to be examined.
It took the President just under a week to get off-message yet again, this time falsely accusing former President Obama of wiretapping him. This off-message agenda accomplishes nothing for conservatives that want to see real action. For the last few days, instead of focusing on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, which was released Monday night, Trump has put the media in a frenzy over the wiretapping accusations.
Trump’s tone can improve, and he can become more presidential. But first, he must stay consistent with his messaging. Not just for an hour long speech, but for his entire four year presidency. Without consistent messaging, Trump’s agenda has no chance.
And while his speech was presidential and hit on many agenda items Republicans are focused on, there’s no indication that any of his policies are actually going to be conservative. In the same speech that he talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare, Trump spoke about a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. Speaker Paul Ryan, who campaigned with Mitt Romney in 2012 on reforming budget problems, gave Trump’s trillion dollar plan a standing ovation.
Therein lies the problem. His agenda itself needs to be seriously considered by Republicans. Sure, Trump won as a Republican, but in a mix between Ivanka-influenced liberalism and Bannon-influenced nationalism, there’s not much room left for conservatism.
If Republicans and the conservative movement want any chance in the post-Trump days, they ought to consider Trump’s policies, not just the presidential rhetoric he displayed for an hour in front of Congress, before getting side-tracked yet again on his Twitter account.