The Most Important Part of Trump’s “Not the State of the Union” Speech

Tonight, Pres. Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress (tradition dictates that it is not a SotU because such speeches are ostensibly evaluating the past year, which newly-elected Presidents are discouraged from doing).  To understand the most important thing about this address, review the data presented by Charles Franklin, a co-developer of the HuffPo’s Pollster site and Director of the Marquette Law school poll:

I have seen folks on the right take heart from the latest WSJ/NBC News poll, which has relatively good numbers for the GOP, indicates that people are hopeful about the direction of the country, and even finds that a bare majority thinks the media has been too critical of Trump (here’s my prior posting on that last subject).  But that hopeful mood ultimately will wax or wane depending on Trump’s performance.

The WSJ/NBC poll numbers for Trump himself fall pretty much at the average of the current polling and he remains a few points underwater.  People will say those are good numbers… for Trump.  It’s not clear voters will be grading on a curve as we go forward.

Maybe I’m presenting an overly gloomy portrait of Trump’s political position.  But take a look at the “bullet points” the administration sent the media in advance of the speech (and compare them to the goals Trump counselor Stephen Bannon set forth at CPAC).

What you don’t see in those bullet points is much about Trump’s signature issues of immigration and trade. This despite Trump inviting families of victims of illegal immigrant felons to attend (perhaps to offset the immigrants and refugees Dems invited).

What you do see is an emphasis on basic GOP issues like tax reform and Obamacare.

What you also see promoted is a speech “that crosses the traditional lines of party, race and socioeconomic status.”  One that will emphasize “[m]aking the workplace better for working parents” and “[m]aking sure every child in America has access to a good education.”  Trump is also expected to “reach out to Americans living in the poorest and most vulnerable communities, and let them know that help is on the way.”

This is the sort of messaging the Trump camp brings out when it thinks it is in trouble.  For example, the childcare tax credit championed by Ivanka Trump was emphasized as The Donald was headed into the GOP convention, and again during the final week of the race.  The only other time it got attention was when Ivanka had a dust-up about it with Cosmopolitan magazine.

This speech, as advertised, is the soft Trump — the one ostensibly humanized by association with his kids, the one marketed when the Trump camp is trying to appeal to suburban white women.

Of course, the speech will be delivered by Trump, which means the advertised speech may get skipped in favor of another defense of the size of his Inaugural audience, an attack on the media, or his opinion of whatever stories appear on Fox & Friends this morning.

But the advance spin on the address tells us a bit about how the White House views its current political position.  And that’s the most important part of the speech.

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