The European media on Wednesday had a broadly positive reaction to the tone and delivery of President Donald Trump’s first address to the U.S. Congress despite widespread complaints over the lack of policy detail.
Indeed, given his unique personal and professional style that flies in the face of much established White House protocol, with the implication that this is not a term that has sprung to mind often during the 45th President’s short reign to date, the word “presidential” was drawn upon repeatedly.
While The Times of London’s Rhys Blakely went further to call the address “a measured, wide-ranging speech… which looked to reset his presidency after a fitful start”, British broadsheet The Telegraph commented that Trump was “unusually measured and embraced the pomp and tradition of a presidential address to Congress”.
Trump “struck an uncharacteristically measured tone,” noted The Financial Times’ Demetri Sevastopulo. This was, however, a speech that “left markets disappointed by the lack of detail on tax cuts and other policy plans,” Sevastopulo added.
Yet “this is not a speech for the financial markets…that is the last thing on his speechwriter’s mind and the President’s mind …it’s a speech to the public,” Pippa Malmgren, Founder, DRPM Group, reminded viewers on CNBC on Wednesday.
She then echoed the word of the day, adding, “The speechwriter here has done a brilliant job…All the Democrats said ‘oh my gosh this changes everything because now he sounds presidential’.”
The Daily Mail‘s Francesca Chambers claimed that “while none of them were caught shouting incendiary remarks, lawmakers from the opposing party audibly groaned, moaned, grumbled and hissed during the president’s joint address” after saying that that the Democrats “cackled” during his speech.
Trump was accused of taking many snipes at the Democrats, “who rarely applauded him all evening” in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. With British tabloid The Sun claiming that the President’s speech was “interrupted 94 times by applause”, this implies there must have been many sore hands among the Republicans.
When The Telegraph‘s Rob Crilly wrote “you know exactly what Congressional Republicans are thinking: Phew. Now, please don’t say anything stupid. And for 60 minutes and 11 seconds, Donald Trump pretty much managed it,” he implied that the clapping frenzy may have been more a demonstration of relief than enthusiasm.
With the Financial Times‘s Edward Luce positing that “this was America’s first glimpse of an upbeat President Trump, “optimistic” was another positive word doing the rounds of European media today.
The change was described as Trump breaking with “his campaign rhetoric, which was often close to dystopian, as well as with the murderous outbursts on his Twitter account” by France’s Le Monde which echoed the Financial Times’ sentiment.
Italy’s Corriere della Sera cautioned that “it remains to be seen whether the change is real…or if the President only wanted to create a diversion,” while agreeing that Trump had never been “so presidential”.
“I think on the margins he helped himself – it was a much less angry speech, dark speech, than his inaugural address for example,” said Peter Trubowitz, Director of the United States Centre at the London School of Economics and struck a broadly positive tone on the speech.
However, he joined those reserving a longer-term judgment for now.
“I do think he helped himself with his base. But Trump could easily just go back on Twitter and get himself back in hot water,” concluded the Professor
(Adapted from CNBC)