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Beware of Trump derangement syndrome, Democrats

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Like Reagan, Trump's stagecraft at the State of the Union was outstanding, befitting a man who spent most of his adult life building his brand as a celebrity through celebrity gossip media and his own reality TV shows. More comfortable with ad libs to a rally crowd than with reading a TelePrompTer, he filled the speech with call-outs to guests in his audience that had poignant, tragic, heroic or uplifting stories to tell.

Reagan, in fact, was the first president to amplify the impact of the State of the Union Address by calling out notable audience members in 1982. He had one guest that year. Trump had 15 this year.

Such is the power and majesty of the State of the Union. In the hands of a savvy entertainer or pitchman -- Reagan and Trump were both -- the majesty of the occasion can easily make any political adversaries look small.

So whatever message the Democrats had in mind as they decided to protest by refusing to stand or clap for Trump, it didn't have much of a chance against Trump's stagecraft. He seems to enjoy making smoke come out of his opponents' ears -- like the professional wrestlers with whom he used to work in the WWE.

Show public anger at Trump? Go ahead. He welcomes it.

Yet, ironically, Trump actually showed surprisingly significant movement toward the Dems in his speech. Sure, he might reverse himself later, as he has in the past. He's already getting pressure from the right, for example, for his surprisingly progressive offer of a "pathway to citizenship" for immigrants brought here unlawfully as children. Conservative Breitbart immediately branded him "Amnesty Don."

But, as long as the option is available, Democrats, don't let Trump derangement syndrome stop you.

You owe it to yourselves and your constituents to work with this president as much as you would want Republicans to work with the next Democratic president.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2018 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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