For a year now, while some critics said Trump should go away, I’ve said our President should just be himself. Tweets? Fine. Rallies? More, please. Interviews on Fox? Keep ‘em coming.
But in 2018, something was lost. Cornered and attacked at every turn, our President wasn’t becoming more like himself, but less. Besieged by unfair accusations, Trump lost some of his jovial persona—that Positive Salesman who won the White House. Nearly unheard was his deal-making, “You’re gonna love this!” sales pitch.
Man, how I longed to hear, "We're gonna do this, and you're gonna LOVE IT!" again. Not just that we were making things great again, but how people were going to love that greatness; how they would love doing great things in a booming workplace.
But what we saw in 2018 wasn’t Positive Salesman Trump. It was Reactive Trump—reacting to everyone opposing him. This athlete is stupid. That actress is ugly and makes bad movies. Every media outlet except Fox is fake news (okay, that’s true). Pelosi is this. Schumer is that. Anyone not loyal is a coward. React, react, react. And as the November results showed, this unnatural Trump wasn’t selling like the natural one. (More on that later)
It was time to bring The Donald back.
On Tuesday night, Positive Salesman Trump returned in full force. Reaching out and lightening up, our President found his groove—with astonishing results. He avoided insults. He applauded the high number of women in Congress. Couched in waves of charm, even his tough stances (abortion, illegal immigration, socialism) were well received. The Great Salesman was back.
You want big numbers? Get ready: After cratering approval following the shutdown (which was still a great idea), Positive Salesman Trump’s speech scored an exquisite 76% approval among viewers, according to CBS. And though the audience skewed Republican, Independents bolstered Trump’s numbers with a sizzling 82% thumbs up. Remarkable. In about 80 minutes, Positive Salesman Trump had erased a year of Reactive Trump. The performance was virtuoso.
Now admittedly, some of us (myself included) enjoyed Reactive Trump. We giggled at the insults. We cheered the barbs. Why? Well, frankly, because we were angry. Having endured decades of compromising, get-along Republicans, we were desperate for a brawler—someone who would actually fight back. Enough Bush’s! Enough McCains! After decades of being mocked while our liberties eroded, we found Trump’s bruising of societal elites…exhilarating.
Problem was, all this exhilaration only felt good to our base. The other two thirds of America—the Middle and Far Left—saw a President fighting to make only one third happy. Were they right? No, but Trump’s reactive persona made it feel that way. And feelings, my friends…vote.
None of this was new, as Barack Obama had the same struggles. An activist President, Obama’s condescending depictions of those outside his base (bitter clingers, anyone?) convinced two thirds of the nation he was advancing one third’s agenda. Once the smooth-talking, hope-peddling idealist, Obama had become a petulant child insulting anyone without a “Hope” t-shirt.
And in the 2010 and 2014 midterms, his Party suffered. Big time.
Political Reality 101: When two thirds think you speak for one third, your Party is doomed. Just witness Reactive Trump’s results. Across the board, poll after poll showed surging opposition in the two thirds, and a depleted one third. In off-year elections and finally November, Republicans performed far below traditional win gaps versus Democrats—even 15-25 points worse. When the final wave hit, the House was lost, and far worse, only 2 Senate seats were gained—barely—when the map should have guaranteed a 7-9 seat gain. Just awful.
Does this mean Trump was the problem? Did he need to go? Not at all. But Reactive Trump? Yeah, that wasn’t working. The Donald needed to be himself again.
Problem is, some of Trump’s supporters were so happy with him bashing critics, they convinced themselves this was the real Trump. On one level, they had a point: Trump always had a fighter’s mentality, being a hard-nosed businessman from New York. But the old Trump fought positively, mixing playful barbs and taunts (Little Marco, Crooked Hillary) with a constant flow of happy thoughts. That Trump didn’t fight like some clod in a bar, flailing away and falling into punches. He fought like Muhammed Ali, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Just ask Marco Rubio. Or Jeb Bush. Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, someone named John Kasich—all of them felt the blinding jabs. Each of them were knocked off their games by Trump, not the other way around.
But we’re all human, aren’t we? Think about it: When you endure long periods of unfair attacks, doesn’t it knock you off your game? Don’t you start fixating and sounding paranoid? Most everyone does. And Donald Trump, being much less politician and much more human, was susceptible like any of us. As the Left’s blitzkrieg wore on, Trump just wasn’t Trump anymore.
Suddenly, the Great Positive Salesman returned! Gentle stories grabbed hearts, non-partisan praise raised eyebrows, and policy statements sounded far less demanding and far more promising for all Americans. Somewhere, Marco Rubio looked up and said, “Yep. That’s the guy who beat me.”
Like that great artist of the boxing ring, Muhammed Ali, Trump unleashed his art of the deal with American voters. It worked. Hearing him talk, Americans heard someone making the sale—flattering the customer, honoring the audience, praising the competition, then jabbing them—whatever it took. This felt different. This felt fresh, apolitical, and real. Whereas Obama offered “hope” for social justice revenge, Trump offered hope for everyone. Hearing him, we realized we’re too great not to have good jobs.
And just like Trump’s failed GOP opponents, the media was knocked off its game. Flustered, leftwing talking heads read Trump’s smashing polls through gritted teeth, then stirred up any negativity they could find—or concoct. It was embarrassing, and all I could do was smile.
“This is the Real Trump,” I thought. “This is that Positive Salesman, the guy who’s so busy celebrating success for all Americans, he hasn’t time for paranoia. This is a guy showing up at my door and selling me a vacuum cleaner when I already own three.”
“And best of all, this guy’s jabs carry more punch, hitting home like laser-guided missiles. Last year’s Reactive Trump sounded like a target. This guy sounds like a happy hunter, rooting out targets for all Americans to oppose. Late term abortion? Hey, we’re not monsters like Virginia’s governor. A border wall? It’s protection for all of us, not just rich elites in gated mansions. Socialism? Not in our country, baby. This isn’t Venezuela; we’re winners here.”
And as the numbers show, two-thirds suddenly saw this as their President, not just mine. Like I’ve said for a year, I don’t need Trump to make me feel good—he had me at "hello." I need him to make them—two thirds of our country—feel good.
After all, when they feel good, the media feels bad—and that makes me feel reeeeeally good.
Donald Trump never needed to shut up or stop tweeting or anything else. He just needed to set aside the doubters and be himself again. And on Tuesday night, he did just that.
The results? MAGA, baby. Pure magic. What a speech.