Halfway though President Trump's 90-minute State of the Union (SOTU) address Tuesday, it suddenly struck me: This guy is good at this.
Of course he is. This is a man who spent 14 years as host of television reality shows, most notably, The Apprentice.
Standing at the podium in the House chamber, the President was in his element. He was the star of his reality show. Members of Congress and the nation, watched him perform.
Half the Congress cheered on cue. They rose to their feet in their enthusiasm. The other half remained respectfully sullen and subdued with only the occasional moan.
What struck me halfway through the speech was the confident manner in which the President stayed on script and especially the way he read the description of guests chosen to illustrate his vision of the state of our union.
Trump followed the formula set by another actor-president, Ronald Reagan, the first president to recognize an invited guest during his State of the Union address in 1982.
Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, authors of The American Presidency Project, have recorded the annual guest list of those who have been introduced by presidents.
They note that President Bill Clinton, who delivered the only two SOTU addresses longer than Trump's, spoke on February 4, 1997, and as his first guest, he identified the first Chinese-American state governor, Governor Gary Locke, a Democrat from the state of Washington.
In his 1997 SOTU speech, Clinton highlighted his support of education when he highlighted two students from Illinois, Chris Getsler and Kristen Tanner, both of whom "were among the students who tied for first in the world in science and came in second in math in the Third International Math and Science Study." Clinton also recognized their teacher, Sue Winski.
Clinton wanted the nation to understand him as welcoming to immigration and supportive of education.
The vision President Trump brings to the White House is dark in tone, white in racial color, and militaristic in style. His "base" responds to the simplistic reality which his vision creates.
President Trump is not subtle. He says what is on his mind at a given moment. He was following a script at the SOTU, which we must assume he rehearsed and knew what he wanted to say.
His speech writers had followed the formula used by presidents since Reagan, sprinkling his speech with introductions of guests in the hall.
Kashana Cauley, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, writes what she saw behind Trump's guest list...