Wake up, Democrats, Trump is spinning his way to a second term
If I may revive a wonderful word from the days of President George W. Bush, don't "misunderestimate" President Donald Trump.
That thought came to mind last week as I watched teleprompter Trump deliver this year's State of the Union address, followed the next day by Twitter Trump and rally Trump.
Like the tireless salesman and spinmeister that he is, Trump loves to ad-lib. For his advisers, trying to confine Trump to what's on the teleprompter has been about as easy as, say, wrestling a squirming 3-year-old child into a T-shirt that's maybe a tad too small.
But teleprompter Trump sailed through this year's State of the Union address with a smooth confidence, based perhaps on the knowledge that the Republican senators were almost all set to acquit him the next day of impeachment charges brought by House Democrats.
Then Twitter Trump and rally Trump could show themselves again in spirited rants aimed at his political foes and anyone else who has refused to believe the charges against him were "a hoax."
But back to the big speech. I did a double take several times, most strikingly when he received a rousing ovation for taking food access away from poor people.
"Under the last administration, more than 10 million people were added to the food-stamp rolls," he said. "Under my administration, 7 million Americans have come off of food stamps, and 10 million people have been lifted off of welfare."
That's largely true, although there's a fuzzy line between being "lifted" off of aid and being thrown off. The number of Americans on food stamps, properly called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, increased during the Obama years. But that was because of something called the recession, which began before Obama was elected.
Two years into his second term Obama signed a version of the annual farm bill that cut the food-stamp budget by $800 million. The number of people on food stamps has been declining ever since. So Obama didn't exactly throw money at poor people.
But that's in the past. Trump has to stand on his own now and, so far, he has successfully avoided messing up the recovering and growing economy that Obama left for him.