US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) applaud as US President Donald J. Trump (C) arrives to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, USA, 28 February 2017. Traditionally the first address to a joint session of Congress by a newly-elected president is not referred to as a State of the Union.

Last Night, the Man Became the President

The truth is that Presidential speeches to joint sessions of Congress are quickly forgotten. Within a week, the nation will be on to other topics. But while the speeches are forgotten, the impressions they leave will live on. Last night, Mr. Trump finally became President Trump. That should scare the crap out of Democrats.

President Trump’s speech was, frankly, a conventional speech to a crowd that favors convention. He sounded the part. He hit the right notes. His remarks on Ryan Owens and having Mrs. Owens there were electric and unifying. It was a moment of non-partisanship in a hyper-partisan age. That moment allowed all but the most cynical partisans to be American, not partisan. The President put the nation ahead of the tribe. That matters.

It matters because things have felt out of sorts for some time and the last month has been discombobulating and confusing for so many people. Last night, President Trump restored normalcy. It has a different rhythm and a different cadence, but it is familiar. That familiarity is reassuring.

The President’s performance should scare Democrats because they had placed their bets that President Trump is incapable of rising to the occasion. But he did. They cannot now rely on letting President Trump self immolate. They are now going to have to relate to real people in the heartland again, but how can they?

In saying, “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America,” President Trump connected with the middle class across demographic lines and Americans witnessed a Democratic Party sitting on their hands. When the Congress gave Mrs. Owens a standing ovation, Keith Ellison — the would be chair of the DNC — and Debbie Wasserman Schultz refused to stand.

Last night, the President showed he really has found his footing. He showed he really can be up to the task of being everyone’s President. He showed he is invested in the job.

The substance of his speech was not conservative. There was big government for everyone. Republicans cheered protectionism and government mandated paid family leave. They cheered further government interference in the free market and healthcare. But again, the substance of the speech will all be forgotten. No President’s wish list in a speech like this ever advances too far.

What does advance is how people left the speech feeling. And Americans had every reason to feel reassured that things will be okay in the Age of Trump.

Now if he’ll just stay off Twitter for 24 hours.

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Erick Erickson

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