Donald Trump’s presidency has proved as controversial and divisive as many predicted it would be when he became President-elect in November 2016. The implementation of his Travel Ban was highly criticised and soon blocked by the courts while his firing of a top-aide instigated fresh concerns about the credibility of his administration. Additionally, his low approval ratings will have hurt his ego and he would have aimed to rectify this through his first address to Congress in an attempt to start the process of uniting the country.

What was said?

Trump’s first address to Congress had a surprisingly upbeat tone compared to his bleak inauguration speech.

He spoke of the United States as being “a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its very ugly forms”. Moreover, he communicated his words is a less bombastic manner which was on show for all to see during his presidential campaign.

Instead, he chose to converse in a more conventional and reserved style. Nevertheless, he still repeated some of the same rhetoric that he has used in previous speeches which have caused such division amongst the American public. This included calling for increased border security, denouncing illegal immigrants and repeating his pledge to build the wall on the US/Mexico border.

The Reaction

Obviously, the delivery of Trump’s speech surprised many.

Anthony Zurcher, a North America reporter for the BBC, remarked that Trump “acted and sounded not unlike presidents of the past. Presidential, even”. Praise was also given to Trump’s remarks towards Carryn Owens, the widow of Ryan Owens who was the Navy Seal killed in the failed raid in Yemen. Surprisingly, Van Jones, a CNN commentator who has been and continues to be one of Donald Trump’s fiercest critics, was one of the people who praised this aspect of the speech.

While Van Jones had problems with a lot of aspects of Trump’s address to Congress, he noted that Trump’s comments towards Carryn Owens was the moment he “became President of the United States”. Still, despite this, a lot of contempt for Trump’s address to Congress was evident in the aftermath of the speech as we can see below.