In his first address to Congress, President Trump once again offered a glimpse of why Americans voted for him to lead this nation. He delivered an inspiring speech calling for unity and the end of “pure, unadulterated division” and “trivial fights” that have plagued Washington.
Trump’s first months in office have been filled with turbulence, as the Democratic Party and the media continue their hostile attack against him. At times it has thrown the president off course and has taken away from what he has been able to accomplish in such a short time.
Last week’s speech proved that if he stays on course and keeps delivering on his campaign promises, the country will unite behind him. This was the first time many people had seen him adopt a statesmanlike cadence, and it left even some of his harshest critics impressed.
The speech hit an emotional high point as Trump acknowledged Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in an anti-terror raid in Yemen that was the Trump administration’s first major military engagement. “Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero — battling against terrorism and securing our nation,” Trump said. The House chamber erupted into a two-minute-long standing ovation as millions of Americans witnessed the tears streaming down Carryn Owens’s face.
One of Trump’s strongest critics, CNN commentator Van Jones, reacted to the speech by saying of Trump, “He became president of the United States in that moment, period.” Jones added, “That was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in America politics.”
It could prove to be a turning point for Trump. He was presidential and unifying, and if he stays on that course, his approval ratings will likely surge and he’ll be the president for eight years.
According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 57 percent of Americans say Trump is likely to bring change, and 63 percent believe he will bring the right kind of change. Fifty-three percent of those polled agree that the news media and other elites are exaggerating the problems with the Trump administration because they are uncomfortable and threatened by the kind of change that Trump represents.
These numbers make it clear that Americans are willing to give him a chance, and are seeing right through the petty attempts by the liberal media to discredit and destroy his progressive agenda.
I believe that those hoping that Trump will fail, and that his term will remain conflict-ridden, should be concerned. Last week’s speech proved that he can be the unifying leader that Americans elected.
It also quelled the fears of skeptical Republicans who weren’t sure enough about Trump back in November to give him their votes.
Unfortunately, the praise didn’t last long, as the media quickly began reporting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had committed perjury during his Senate confirmation hearing when he was asked whether he’d had contact with any Russian officials during the presidential campaign, which he was involved in.
As a result, Sessions agreed to recuse himself from any investigations of Trump campaign or administration officials’ contacts with Russian officials. At a news conference, Sessions recalled his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and acknowledged that he had been “taken aback” by the line of questioning at his confirmation and “in retrospect, [I] should have slowed down and answered more carefully.”
Trump has stood by Sessions, stating, “Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong.” Trump described the investigation as a “witch hunt” by Democrats who have “lost their grip on reality.”
It’s hard to defend Sessions, and it’s been truly shameful to watch this situation unfold. If Sessions thinks the American public is now going to believe that he simply didn’t recall meeting with the Russian ambassador, he is truly mistaken.
There is no room for this kind of behavior in Washington. The American people deserve transparency and truthful government. Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself, but this is a stain on the Trump administration’s image that will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.