January 20, 2019

Trump's Prime Time Challenge

“For President Trump, a prime-time presidential address to the nation was a radical experiment in conventionality. The first results back from the lab were not an indication that he should stop winging it and become more disciplined in the mold of predecessors.

Here was one of the most traditionally powerful platforms available to a president—one camera, one leader, speaking to millions from the Oval Office—turned over to the improvisationalist in chief, the most non-traditional communicator ever to occupy the White House.

It is a good thing for Trump that he will presumably withhold a caustic Trump critique of his own performance: “low energy” is one phrase that might come back in vogue. His eyes were squinty and his expression flat. The words, which often sounded more like a speechwriter’s than Trump’s own, were delivered with such slow and deliberate articulation that comic Seth MacFarlane tweeted that the 9-something-minute address “had the cadence of a Wheel of Fortune contestant solving the puzzle.””

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