— CNN (@CNN) March 1, 2017
Despite a spirited “rogue” rebuttal from Sen. Bernie Sanders, and a less than enthusiastic official response from the Democratic Party, Donald Trump’s first congressional address Tuesday night is drawing praise from all corners of the political spectrum. From cable news panels held moments after the president uttered his final words, to morning-after roundups praising the “New Trump” and his far more reserved “tone,” many seemed impressed with Trump’s teleprompted speech. Especially CNN political commentator Van Jones, who singled out Trump’s momentarily giving the floor to a military widow as his most “presidential” moment.
“He became President of the United States in that moment, period. There are a lot of people who have a lot of reason to be frustrated with him, to be fearful of him, to be mad at him — but that was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics. And for people who have been hoping that he would become unifying, hoping he would find some way to become presidential, they should be happy with that moment. For people who have been hoping maybe he would remain a divisive cartoon, which he often finds a way to do, they should begin to become a little bit worried tonight. Because that thing you just saw him do — if he finds a way to do that over and over again, he’s going to be there for eight years.”
Yet for all the praise Jones lavished on the president, he was quick to couch it in critical terms reminiscent of his past statements. “There is a lot that he said in that speech that was counterfactual,” he cautioned. “That was not right, that I oppose and will oppose.” And if Trump again turns on the former White House advisor’s network, which is all too likely, then Jones’ next panel appearance will probably pivot in another direction.
Even so, many of Jones’ fellow Trump critics weren’t pleased with his newfound admiration for the president — especially since its chief catalyst was what one critic characterized as “provoking a crowd to clap for a dead soldier and his widow”: