Reviews Mixed for 'Low Energy' Trump

He says speech was an 'interesting experience'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2019 7:10 AM CST
Trump Calls Speech 'an Interesting Experience'
Schumer and Pelosi deliver the Democratic response.   (Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – After addressing the nation from the Oval Office Tuesday night, President Trump tweeted video of his speech on border security and added: "Thank you for soooo many nice comments regarding my Oval Office speech. A very interesting experience!" The comments, however, were not universally nice. Raw Story reports that the speech was "widely panned," with fact-checkers accusing the president of making numerous misleading statements in his call for a border wall to combat a "security crisis." Other reactions:

  • "A comedian playing an empty room." James Poniewozik at the New York Times was not impressed by Trump's speech, the Democratic response, or the networks' decision to cover this "empty fizzle of a partisan event." He compares Trump's "sleepy" performance to that of a "comedian playing an empty room" and says Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer seemed "a cross between Grant Wood’s 'American Gothic' and the twins from The Shining."

  • Networks challenged Trump. The AP reports that major networks, facing criticism for airing the address, did not fact-check it live, but challenged some of Trump's remarks as soon as it finished. "Just because you say it's a crisis doesn't necessarily make it so," said ABC White House correspondent Cecilia Vega, while NBC's Chuck Todd said Trump "made a lot of dubious claims."
  • "Low energy." The traditional Oval Office presidential address is not a format that suits Trump, John F. Harris writes at Politico. "It is a good thing for Trump that he will presumably withhold a caustic Trump critique of his own performance: 'low energy' is one phrase that might come back in vogue," he writes. "His eyes were squinty and his expression flat," Harris writes, and he delivered his words with such "slow and deliberate articulation" that Seth MacFarlane compared him to a Wheel of Fortune contestant solving the puzzle.
  • "He was presidential." Trump gets high marks from Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post, who describes him as compassionate and reasonable and called for a compromise, not the declaration of a national emergency. "He was, in short, presidential," especially when compared to Pelosi and Schumer, Thiessen writes.

  • "He was scary." Alyssa Rosenberg, also at the Washington Post, saw Trump "straining to play a normal president," and found it disturbing when he spoke platitudes he "can't possibly believe." "The address had the queasy effect of a serial killer’s mask in a horror movie," she writes. "It was a failed attempt to look normal that concealed something even more terrifying."
  • Not a game changer. The speech was Trump's first from the Oval Office in almost two years as president, but with both the president and Democrats sticking closely to their earlier arguments, it is unlikely to change public opinion, writes David Lauter at the Los Angeles Times. "In the end, however, airing both the speech and the Democratic response gave Americans a chance to hear both sides’ arguments," he writes. "That may not sway any votes, but it did leave the public better informed."
  • Meme fodder. Pelosi and Schumer's response reminded some people of "exasperated parents," reports the San Francisco Chronicle, which rounds up some of the best memes that flooded the Internet after their appearance.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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