Last night, Donald Trump delivered his first major address to a joint session of Congress. Trump read largely from his prepared remarks and managed not to interject any asides about the corrupt media, his Electoral College victory, or say anything openly racist.
For meeting that bar—which is so low that they're looking up at in from the bowels of the underworld—Trump has been roundly praised for his "presidential" tone and "pivot" on the issues.
His speech was absolutely anything but a "pivot."
On CNN, political commentator Van Jones said that, when Trump acknowledged the widow of a Navy SEAL who was killed during the first massively botched Yemeni raid of this administration, “He became president of the United States in that moment. Period."
It wasn't even true in the moment. After William 'Ryan' Owens' widow Carryn gazed rapturously upward while Congress gave her a standing ovation, Trump couldn't help but break to say Ryan was smiling down on them all and "just broke a record."
It was a manufactured, emotional scene. It would've complicated the narrative to note that Owens' father refused to meet with President Trump when his son's body arrived stateside, and that he's called for an investigation into his son's death.
The next morning, the folks at MSNBC took their turn, this time with contributor Willie Geist offering up a reheating take on Jones' remarks after acknowledging that he was "grading on a curve."
"I was struck by was that it was forward-looking," Geist said. "Last night, he was a president. He was looking forward in a big, grand way."
Yes, Trump was certainly looking forward. His administration is looking forward to rolling out a new, perhaps even legal, travel ban for people from Muslim countries.
It's also looking forward to opening something affectionately called VOICE, or the Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement office. While the details on what an office serving the American victims of undocumented immigrants will look like remain sketchy, its creation feeds the myth that immigrants are committing violent crimes at a far greater rate than native US citizens–which is just not true.
As reactionary as that new division of Homeland Security sounds, there were plenty of reporters who couldn't help but buy into the notion that Trump pulled off the elusive "pivot" we've been waiting for since, oh, almost an entire calendar year.
The New York Times called the address "optimistic":
I don't even know what to do with with this one, but congrats on finding the tech angle:
The media is also so desperate for a return to the status quo–where civility reigns, national leaders behave predictably, and the president doesn't constantly tweet his naked disdain for them–that their praise reached a fever pitch.
It reached a point where even the White House pumped the brakes.
Trump used his speech to talk about "radical Islamic terrorism," fear-monger about the dangers of undocumented immigrants flooding our country, and lay the groundwork for a massive uptick in defense spending. It was classic Trump, and if anything, his restrained demeanor–and the hoards of sycophants rushing to praise him–is more chilling than his bombast on the campaign trail. He's the president now, and he's going to use that power exactly as he promised. It's disturbing—though not surprising—that the elite media is going to roll over so easily for him while he does it.