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Well done, Mr. Trump.

April 27, 2016

Well, you asked for it, and you got it. You, as in the collective “you.”

Mr. Trump’s “major foreign policy address” on Wednesday addressed both the wishes of his supporters and the talking points of his critics.

More importantly, he managed to do so without losing his identity in the formality of the moment.

Just how major it was is more a matter of perception than reality.

In the address, all he really did was flesh out the points he has been making all along, but in a far more coherent and yes, presidential manner than he does at his rallies.

Considering that he actually is the GOP presumptive nominee, that’s a good thing.

All along, Mr. Trump’s supporters have had to sort of intuitively interpret what he believes through the background noise of his personality.

In essence, this was the formal framing of his “iron fist in a velvet glove” approach to the world.

If you missed the broadcast there are replays available, but the tenor, the tone if you will was perhaps more important than what he actually said.

One interesting thing about watching the broadcast live was the audience reaction.

The people that gathered to hear him were not the “let it all hang out” crowd that attends his rallies. While there was probably at least one media type for every real audience member, this was still a less than easily impressed crowd.

Initially the applause was polite at best, tepid at worst. You could feel the suspicion in the room.  It felt like everyone was not just expecting but hoping for him to do a face plant behind the podium.

As the 45-minute address progressed, there were moments that hinted at something approaching enthusiasm. The applause began to sound more spontaneous, and there was more of it.

That’s not to say he got a standing ovation, but at least no one pelted him with rotten fruit.

Yes, he did use the occasion to make some direct swipes at Mrs. Clinton, but always in the context of policy, not personality. After all, this is still a political campaign.

If there was a core message, it was that America under Donald Trump is done being anyone’s patsy, whether they be friend or foe.

His central theme seemed to be that America can be in the world without being absorbed by the world.

He hit most of the required marks, reassuring our allies that they can expect loyalty from America, and putting our enemies on notice that there is a new day dawning.

He also tied economic prosperity to his foreign policy,  emphasizing that a broke America is a weak America.

All in all, this is going to be hard for his political rivals to tear apart on substance, not that they won’t try.

Of course the Clinton camp will seize on his remarks about being more selective about who we let in the country, but he was very careful to draw a clear line between radical Islam and the majority of the people who follow Islam and who are as harmed by the radicals as anyone else in the world.

He invoked a long-standing gripe of many Americans about trying to force other nations into our political model without any understanding of the historical roots of those nations.

While Mrs. Clinton’s cohorts are going on about “bringing (our brand of) democracy to other nations”  Trump was saying “Hey, if you want to follow us into a more democratic way of life we’re happy to help. If not, then don’t attack us just because we are a democracy.”

They will seize on his remark that he is “suspicious of globalization” as a sign that he is an isolationist, all the while trying to convince us that we will be better off socially, economically and militarily if we just admit that we are simply an insignificant cog on the great wheel of global love.

This was just one moment in time in what is sure to be one of the most acrimonious and dirty campaigns most of us living have ever seen.

Whatever else he may be, Donald Trump is a scrapper, and he’s unlikely to stop swinging if he feels he needs to do so.

It’s still his race to lose.

Mr. Trump has to walk that fine line between being himself and being a world leader, and others before him, up to and including Barack Obama have come a cropper trying to do so.

Still, if your only qualm about him was whether he can use good table manners, this should have gone a long way to answer your questions.

From → op-ed

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