The only time Trump got specific last night was when he demonized immigrants. How revealing.

Not a word about Americans killed or menaced by white supremacists. Not a word about gun violence. It's always immigrants. For Trump, it was only ever immigrants.

President Trump.

Last night the president of the United States tried to strike a new tone, one that despite occasional moments of unity and humor, likely convinced no one who wasn't already wearing a red hat. The threadbare policy vision advanced in his speech was as absurd as any of his daily, febrile Twitter hallucinations, even if more seriously stated. And while President Trump's speechwriters managed to steer him away from his rally-standard free association act, the address' absence of even cursory policy signals how little he cares about solving the country's many pressing problems.

From the moment someone unloaded a bottomless trunk full of elderly white men, i.e. Trump's Cabinet, onto the House floor to the address' merciful denouement 84 minutes later, the president failed to change the narrative of his presidency or to advance a plausible policy vision for the next year. If you are part of the 41 percent of Americans who enjoyed the president's first two years in office, you almost certainly took pleasure in last night's proceedings. The event was at times cleverly stage-managed, particularly in its focus on the quickly disappearing Greatest Generation heroes. The expected procession of human props and callouts was, particularly by the standards of this administration, impressive in its execution and in the scope of its emotional appeal. The sniffing was kept to a minimum.

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David Faris

David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He is a frequent contributor to Informed Comment, and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indy Week.