NBC's Chuck Todd has an issue with President Trump's first State of the Union address.
It's not that it was a bad speech, necessarily. It's just that the Donald we all know didn't give it.
Speaking on MSNBC after the State of the Union, Todd dove into why Trump's inauthentic speech failed to deliver.
Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM.
"It is hard to judge these speeches because we know it's not him," Todd said. "It's him reading off a teleprompter."
"There are some things he says that sound like him totally, you know. He'll throw in a 'beautiful' and an extra 'totally.' But you can tell he is reading it. He doesn't own it. ... I think [the Trump administration] would be better off letting him ad lib because it would be authentic. There is a missing authenticity here."
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
After others on the panel began laughing at the thought of the president improvising the State of the Union, Todd clarified what he meant.
"You guys are laughing," he said, grinning. "I'm being semi-serious here."
Americans know the president as a man who jabs at political opponents using disparaging nicknames on Twitter — not a guy who genuinely wants to bring people together, Todd explained. "I'm just saying; the Donald Trump we know as a country, that we interact with every day, with his Twitter feed, with the asides and all of this — the guy that likes to give us all nicknames — that isn't who you saw [at the State of the Union], right?"
Beyond tone, Trump's attempts at bipartisanship also fell flat to many because he's thrived on divisiveness throughout his first year in office.
Unifier-in-chief? Eh, not so fast.
Although the White House touted Trump's first State of the Union as "bright and optimistic" — a means to bring parties together — the branding may not have stuck. Polling from last year found the overwhelming majority of Americans believe Trump does more to divide the country than unite it. One speech won't flip that figure overnight.
Reaction shots of many Congresspeople in the audience showed that not everyone was impressed by Trump's speech. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.
And when it comes to the issues, Trump's calls for unity just didn't sync up with reality.
Trump took sole credit on job creation, shrinking the unemployment rate among black Americans, and boosting manufacturing — all signs of an improving economy that surfaced under President Obama. When it came to issues like immigration, health care, and national security, Trump played to his own base, blasting Obamacare, cheering the existence of Guantanamo Bay, and highlighting a necessity to stand for the national anthem.
"President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address was billed by the White House beforehand as a speech that would be 'unifying' and 'bipartisan,'" Jonathan Allen wrote for NBC. "It was neither."
But even if it were, would Americans buy it?
"You don't see this Trump very often so I don't know if it can sell anything," Todd concluded on MSNBC. "That's my point here. So I don't know how much ability this version of President Trump does to persuade anybody because you don't see it very often."
You can watch Todd discussing his thoughts on the State of the Union at MSNBC.