Trump Praised for Speech, But Can He Continue Unifying Message?

    01 March, 2017

    President Donald Trump won cheers by calling for unity in his speech to Congress Tuesday night.

    Trump appealed to Americans to unite and work together on job creation, national security and other issues.

    Some wished he gave the speech at the start of his presidency, just over 40 days ago.

    That was the opinion of The Mercury News in San Jose, California. "Had he (Trump) offered this speech a month ago, at least some of the panic that has accompanied his election might have been calmed," the newspaper said in an editorial.

    The Mercury News said it cannot forget that Trump in his speech asked for an end to "trivial fights" after fighting since the start of his presidency. His targets have included the news media, the U.S. National Park Service and even movie stars like Meryl Streep.

    But the newspaper praised Trump for not talking so much about himself during the speech. Instead, it was "we, we, we -- as it should be in a democracy," the editorial said.

    Many of the president's supporters loved what they heard. In Holmes, Pennsylvania, Bryan Gallagher said, "To bring money back and jobs back, anybody that's finally talking about the economy and American workers. What's wrong with that?"

    Even some of Trump's critics offered praise.

    Van Jones is a liberal commentator for CNN television. Jones said he disagrees with most of what Trump proposed Tuesday night. But he said it was a special moment when the president recognized the wife of a U.S. Navy seal killed in Yemen. She fought back tears as lawmakers and others in the Capitol building stood and cheered for over two minutes in tribute to her husband's bravery.

    "He (Trump) became president of the United States in that moment, period," Jones said.

    Carryn Owens, widow of Navy Seal William
    Carryn Owens, widow of Navy Seal William "Ryan" Owens, is applauded during President Trum's speech on February 28.

    Members of Trump's Republican Party joined in the praise.

    Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming said the president's speech offered "the same spirit of optimism that I hear from people all around Wyoming."

    Yet there were questions about whether Trump can put into action the long list of proposals he noted during his hour-long speech.

    "Like most presidents he was strong on the goodies, but a little weak on how to pay for it," said Texas Congressman Joe Barton, a Republican.

    California Senator Dianne Feinstein added: "It sounds great to slash taxes and spend more money while at the same time balancing the budget, but that's not how real life works." Feinstein is a leading member of the Democratic Party.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein
    Senator Dianne Feinstein

    But an opinion survey for CNN found that about seven in 10 Americans who watched the speech said they are now more hopeful about the future of the country.

    Jeff Olsen is an educator and Trump supporter in Texas. "I would have felt a lot better hearing this speech five weeks ago," he said. "We're all Americans. We all want to see what's best for America, but I think there's a much more unifying tone in what he said this evening."

    Will he return to Twitter?

    There were questions about whether Trump after making a generally well-received speech about unity might soon return to Twitter to attack his critics.

    "He has been known to step on his own message with an aggrieved tweet or two," wrote Peter Nicholas in the Wall Street Journal. "In the White House, some senior aides are no doubt hoping the new president returns to (the White House), puts his phone away and goes to bed, having helped his cause."

    International reaction

    Russia said it did not take issue with Trump's decision not to talk about Russia Tuesday night. It is natural for him to "be busy with American affairs while our president (Vladimir) Putin is busy with Russian affairs,'" a statement said.

    Chinese officials disputed Trump's criticism in his speech of one-sided trade deals. He said that such deals led to factory closings in the United States, with businesses moving their operations to China.

    A representative of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said China-U.S. trade benefits both countries.

    I'm Jill Robbins.

    And I'm Bruce Alpert.

    Bruce Alpert wrote this story for VOA Learning English. It was based partly on reports from VOA's Chris Hannas, Katherine Gypson Kane Farabaugh, Michael O'Sullivan and Carolyn Presutti. George Grow was the editor.

    We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on 51VOA.COM. Did you watch the speech or read about it? And what did you think -- good or bad?


    Words in This Story

    panic - n. a state or feeling of extreme fear that makes someone unable to act or think normally

    accompany - v. to go somewhere with someone

    editorial - n. an essay in a newspaper or magazine that gives the opinions of its editors or publishers

    moment - n. a very short period of time

    tribute – n. something that you saw or do to show respect for someone

    optimism - n. feeling very hopeful something good will happen

    slash - v. to reduce by a large amount

    evening - n. nighttime

    aggrieved - adj. feeling anger because of unfair treatment