Analysis & Opinions - The Boston Globe

Trump 2020? Possible, But Through Path of Potholes

| Feb. 05, 2018

Sometimes an agonized facial expression speaks louder than a thousand words. As President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address last week, the Democratic side of the House of Representatives was one big rictus of pain.

Television viewers saw more of Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan. But the reason their faces grew steadily more gleeful had less to do with what Trump was saying than with how their opponents were looking.

Nancy Pelosi, in particular, was a portrait of acute political discomfort. At one point, it appeared that a large piece of lemon rind had become trapped between two of her teeth. Senator Cory Booker was shooting for gold in the frown olympics.

Trump’s speech was not great, but it was good. Just over a year ago, in his inaugural address, he had painted a grim picture of “American carnage.” Last week he radiated Reaganesque optimism. Thanks to his administration, he declared, a “new tide of optimism” had been “sweeping across our land.”

Trump’s predecessor often used these occasions to tell emblematic stories of “ordinary folks.” Yet Barack Obama was too aloof a personality to make this work: Somehow, the individuals in question always sounded like plaintiffs in a Harvard Law School case. For all Trump’s notorious solipsism, he pulled off the “shout-out” trick again and again on Tuesday night. Each of his carefully chosen American heroes appeared genuinely moved by the applause they received.

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For Academic Citation: Ferguson, Niall.“Trump 2020? Possible, But Through Path of Potholes.” The Boston Globe, February 5, 2018.

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