The president opened by celebrating Black History Month. Lady Democrats wore white.
Donald Trump delivered the most finely crafted speech of his political life Tuesday night in what will go down as one of the best speeches delivered to a joint session of Congress in the past two decades.
He hit stirring emotional high notes. And he laid out his vision for his presidency.
Mr. Trump stole the issue of affordable health care from Democrats. He unabashedly owned the fight against illegal immigration.
“Obamacare is collapsing — and we must act decisively to protect all Americans,” he said. “Action is not a choice — it is a necessity.”
In other words, Democrats led by President Obama swindled poor Americans into this disastrous program with their usual host of lies and false promises, and now these good people are stranded. But Mr. Trump and Republicans are not going to leave these innocent Americans to dig themselves out of the mess Democrats put them in.
“So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.”
When the camera panned to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — who, inexplicably, is still the Democratic leader in the House — she looked like she had been sucking on the bitterest of lemons.
Strategically, it was brilliant. It completely cuts Democrats out of the debate.
And then the president’s salute to Megan Crowley, who is alive today because of the herculean efforts by her father to find a drug to combat Pompe disease, sealed the deal.
Mr. Trump then laid out the broad brush parameters of a health care law he would like to see Republicans hammer out to replace Obamacare.
On illegal immigration, Mr. Trump held firm.
“To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income or a loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?”
Another question he might have asked those in Congress who do not believe in enforcing immigration laws: “If you don’t like the immigration laws, why don’t you change them? You are the only branch of government that can.”
Mr. Trump also deplored the hellfire violence in Chicago and called education “the civil rights issue of our time.”
The senator from Illinois and other Democrats offered only the most paltry, perfunctory applause.
The entire speech was supremely presidential. But it wasn’t without humor. After excoriating both Democrats and Republicans for spending $6 trillion in the Middle East, he said, “We could have rebuilt our country — twice.”
He waited two beats. “And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to … negotiate,” Mr. Trump said, dropping into his finest “Apprentice” tone of voice.
The camera panned to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was exchanging perplexed glances with an equally befuddled senator. They didn’t get the line. Apparently, Ms. Warren never achieved her merit badge for reading smoke signals.
In the end, Donald Trump so dominated the entire night that Democrats were left with nothing but sullen protests.
The ladies wore white, but nobody was exactly sure why.
In a shocking development, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not doze off during the hourlong address. At least not on national television. She did not show up.
And in another development that absolutely nobody cared about, Rep. Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, announced he would not shake Mr. Trump’s hand. It was not clear at press time if Mr. Trump even knows who Eliot Engel is.
There were so many protests on the Democratic side of the aisle, it was hard to keep track. Even the Democrats seemed confused about what they were protesting.
Rep. Joseph Crowley, New York Democrat, wore a giant pin protesting, well, not sure exactly what. It simply featured a large question mark.
In all honesty, that pin could be the party’s entire platform in the next election.
⦁ Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.