Americans would not necessarily recognize what President Trump was doing in his speech to Congress the other night. It was easily recognized by any Brit or Canuck as a typical Speech from the Throne. It is a speech read by the Queen or the Queen’s Representative telling the assembled legislators what direction government legislation will be taking during the term of the current parliamentary session.
It was certainly not your typical American State of the Union address. And British or Canadian members of parliament would have been more restrained in their reaction to it. One rarely comments on the quality of such a speech as it, by nature, has gone through many hands, adding this and that and rarely has flights of rhetoric such as President Trump’s “The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.”
Nor would a throne speech include obvious contradictions such as ensuring jobs in the coal mines while later in the speech talk about the wonderful clean environment. The seeming tempering of his immigration stance during the speech was a bone to critics but the answer will be in the bills his administration sends to Congress.
Like a throne speech, much can happen between the aspirations early in the term of office and the actual legislation that is sent to Congress or the parliament. Bills can be added to or appended during their journey through committees and legislative bodies. The similarity between what was considered a boon to voters in the speech and the final law to be signed is sometimes co-incidental.
What you would not see in a Speech from the Throne in Canada or the United Kingdom would be someone like Donald Trump acting like a pompous fool in delivering the speech over more than an hour. His reaction to the Democrats sitting on their hands through most of his speech was obvious. He made the mistake of playing to them.
Typical of Trump, there appeared to be little thought behind most of his promises. Many left you wondering about their cost. The only specifics were his promises to the General Staff who were seated in the chamber for the speech like the three monkeys. As have many right-wing politicians before him, Trump thinks the money can come from increased efficiencies in government.
The only aspect of the speech that we had never seen before was the use of people introduced from the audience who were there as examples. It was a most embarrassing part of President Trump’s speech. You felt deeply for those people being used in such a crass manner by such a vulgar person.
Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry
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