The Administration

Trump’s conference reaffirmed his mastery at performance


Some have said Donald Trump’s election is about President Obama’s legacy. They argue the American people elected a man who is the exact opposite of what we’ve known for the past eight years, and that it indicates Obama’s communication style and policies are no longer welcome in D.C.

{mosads}If this is true, buckle up, America.


Before President-elect Trump’s press conference earlier today, we only knew the campaigner, not the victor. Sure, he has been vocal on Twitter, but an official press conference as the president-elect still left room to anticipate how he would wear this new hat for the first time in an official setting. Would the weight of the job title lead to a change in tone, style, rhetoric? Would his aforementioned goal to unify be obvious?

Based on his performance, Trump was the man people voted for – nothing more, nothing less. For his supporters, that’s a very good thing; for his skeptics, not so much.

He spoke off-the-cuff in his usual stream of consciousness. He listed his accomplishments since the election (Carrier, F-35), future plans, expectations for Inauguration Day, announced the new Veterans Affairs secretary, and spoke about how treatment of veterans will be very different in his administration without thoughtful transitions between each point.

He embellished – “I said I will be the greatest job producer that God ever created,” “we don’t even have a border; it’s an open sieve,” “we’re hacked by everybody…That includes Russia and China and…everybody.”

He used poor grammar – “we have much hacking going on.” (No use of the word “bigly,” however.)

He failed to give many specifics – when talking about his work with the F-35 production he claimed, “costs are way down” and the “plane will be way better.” The jury’s still out on what exactly he means by either statement. Data points are tricky things.

He spoke about himself in the third person – “no one has ever had crowds like Trump has had,” “If Putin likes Trump, I consider that an asset.”

And finally, he called out the mainstream media – “BuzzFeed is a failing pile of garbage.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Candidate Trump will be President Trump. But maybe that’s a surprise to no one.

In stark contrast, we’ve listened to and watched Obama for the past eight years. He’s a very gifted communicator, a smooth operator concerned with sentence structure. He gives prepared remarks only after they’ve been uploaded to a teleprompter.

Unfortunately for him, nice sounding words and a polished delivery doesn’t lower taxes or decrease the unemployment numbers. So those negatively impacted by Obama’s policies searched for a new champion and found him in Trump, a man who tells it like it is and who insults those who disagree with him.

We’ve been confronted by these two radically different communication styles in less than 24 hours, but both can claim one commonality – Americans either love or hate the messenger. There is no middle ground.

So, Trump has a crisis of decorum to address. He has talked about being a great “uniter” – funny how name-calling doesn’t persuade people to support you. If Trump is serious about his goal to unite, if he wants to stick to his word and appeal to his skeptics, bring more people to his side, and heal the divide, I suggest he log out of Twitter. He’s an all-or-nothing kind of guy, but he can tell it like it is, bypass the media filter, and be tough without being mean.

Voters chose Trump, rough edges and all. I only argue that the office of the presidency demands a higher level of restraint. Here’s hoping he conforms.

Beverly Hallberg is the president and founder of District Media Group where she conducts media training for members of Congress, CEOs, policy wonks, and politicos. She is also a visiting fellow in communications at The Heritage Foundation and 2016 winner of the William F. Buckley Award.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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