Considering the myriad ways in which Donald Trump has at least temporarily changed our perception of the presidency, we anticipated that political commentators would not need to indulge in tired clichés in writing about his State of the Union speech Tuesday.
We are, it seems, hopelessly naíve.
There is of course no shortage of rich fodder for criticizing Trump based on the policies he has espoused or the actions he has proposed or taken.
Yet Will Bunch, a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, in lambasting Trump’s speech chose to emphasize, of all things, the teleprompter.
This, mind you, is a device that every president since Eisenhower has employed.
Bunch referred to the president as “Teleprompter Trump,” apparently in the belief that an effective way to disparage Trump, whose ability to act obnoxiously in public is unmatched among presidents, is to cite one of those rare things in which Trump is precisely like so many of his predecessors.
The editors of Bloomberg News echoed Bunch in their editorial, noting that Trump “read scripted words uneventfully.”
Surely the Bloomberg editors don’t believe that previous presidents gave extemporaneous State of the Union addresses?
The Los Angeles Times eschewed teleprompter references but its editorial also criticized Trump for something in which he is not unusual, but normal to the point of banality.
“Trump was predictably full of praise for himself and his administration,” the Times wrote, as though no president has ever boasted during the State of the Union.
We cite these examples not because we think Trump is being treated unfairly by the media. Rather, we think the public is being poorly served when influential commentators steer the national conversation toward inanities rather than to the important public policy issues that will play out during the rest of Trump’s presidency.
We understand why many people worry about the future, and about what Trump’s unorthodox approach to his office will mean for America and, indeed, for the world.
But that future will be determined by Trump’s actions.
That he reads speeches from a teleprompter is irrelevant.
From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.