In Trump's America it's not Reagan's 'Morning in America; it's 'Midnight in America'. He offered us the politics of fear and threats. His focus was on the politics of fear both at home and abroad. But within this gloomy rendition of the state of our union he provided no coherent road map just a recitation of his familiar campaign stump speeches. But it was a disciplined speech.
My take before the speech was that Trump had to accomplish the following things in his acceptance speech:
To mitigate the damage of days 1-3 The Donald must 1) look presidential not like a mob boss; 2) must be policy-specific - what he's actually going to do and how he's going to do it; 3) how he plans to work with a Congress where House and Senate leadership clearly doesn't like him. This is a tall order in an acceptance speech by a candidate who demonstrates no discipline and seems to suffer from attention deficit disorder...
Trump looked presidential if one's model is Mussolini. He never smiles and his waves to the crowd are perfunctory and his leaving the stage was unusually fast not celebratory with Mike Pence his VP choice. And no Republican notables from Congress were on stage showing solidarity.
He wasn't policy specific at all - he offered no game plan - just a promise to be the a la Nixon in '68 the 'law and order' president here and abroad. His face was the look of a man under siege not a man who looked forward to a challenge but like Nixon - a candidate burdened by the challenge before him.
He gave no indication of working with Congress. He clearly thinks on day 1 he can simply order change via presidential fiat. Like all presidents before him he'll find, if elected, god forbid - that's not the way our political system of checks and balances works.
Trump reminded me of Spiro Agnew who Oregon's Tom McCall acidly reacted to in a speech Agnew gave at a Western GOP governor's conference. When the media asked what he thought of Agnew's speech they quoted Tom saying it was "a bigoted little speech." The next morning Tom corrected the press saying he didn't say "little." It was classic McCall, who was a Republican and Oregon's most revered governor.
Trump always looks angry like Agnew did and he's always negative while asking the voters to trust him to make America safe and great again. Even Nixon had a "driving dream." Trump the rhetoric of fear. His appeal is to a White nationalist base or the so-called Nixon 'Silent Majority' which is 32% of the voting public. Yes, he recognized LGBTQs, tempered his critique of NAFTA and Ivonka embraced family leave and pay equity.
So the question remains is who is the Real Donald? The foul mouthed reality show actor, a corporatist moghul who knows how the game is played or a closet anti-war neo-liberal?
Stay tuned. As Ed Murrow used to say after every broadcast - "good night and good luck." We'll need it as this authoritarian personality who reminds me of Argentina's Peron or Italy's Il Duce pursues his prey.