We wrote yesterday what the president SHOULD do in his address to Congress next Tuesday, and got hit with calls and emails from top White House officials about what Trump WILL do. The news: Officials swear the speech, written by Stephen Miller and other with heavy input from POTUS, is decidedly more upbeat than his inaugural address — "optimistic and uplifting."
A top adviser said: "President Trump is determined to capture the sunny optimism of Reagan to temper the populist anger reflected in his core policies."
While aides dispute that Trump's inaugural address was dark in tone and substance, they concede it was viewed that way by all but true believers. For the Joint Session address, they are self-consciously trying to strike a happier tone for a broader audience, with lots of emphasis on what has been done to date — and what can be done in Congress this year (health care, tax reform and a new partial wall on Mexican border).
But, but, but ... We heard this same spin before his inaugural, and Trump's mostly red-meat campaign rally was supposed to be a message of "unity." So let's see if it's Charlie Brown and the football — or a real shift, even for one night.
In private, West Wing aides say the media should cut them slack, given this is a non-politician staffed by a lot of people new to Washington politics.
Record highs yesterday for three big stock indexes — Dow (now at 20,743), S&P 500 index and Nasdaq — with the "Trump bump" driving the Dow up 12.5% since Election Day. Axios' Chris Matthews emails from New York with three reasons investors are chipper:
Risks abound: Chris notes that there's plenty of evidence that investors are getting ahead of themselves.
Market expectations ... David Ignatius column in WashPost, "Moscow's Trump sell-off": "After Trump's election, investors seemed to be betting that sanctions against Moscow would soon be eased. But this confidence collapsed in late January, and Russian stocks plummeted."
"These issues don't just interest journalists or Trump's critics in Congress. They move markets. The Trump trade was looking like a winner for Moscow, but now, not so much."
"Where jobs will be lost when robots drive trucks," by Axios' David McCabe: "A push by companies like Uber to automate heavy trucks through a combination of artificial intelligence and robotics raises questions for millions of drivers brought into the profession by the promise of a steady job."
In Vanity Fair's forthcoming issue ... "The true story of the Comey letter debacle," by Bethany McLean: "When F.B.I. director James Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails in the final days of the campaign, many saw it as a political move that cost Clinton the presidency. But some insiders suspect Comey had a more personal concern: his own legacy."
"U.S. COULD DEPORT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE." That's USA Today's above-the-fold headline following the Trump administration's release yesterday of a pair of enforcement memos from the Department of Homeland Security that greatly expand the number of illegals who are a deportation priority.
Alan Gomez writes: "Immigration advocacy groups were crushed. Although Trump recently said his focus would be to deport undocumented immigrants with criminal histories or who pose a threat to national security, the new memos make clear that nearly all undocumented immigrants are at risk."
Sean Spicer at yesterday's briefing, on whether one of the goals is mass deportation: "No, not at all."
"Major Elements of Trump's New Immigration Policies," by six N.Y. Times reporters:
New overnight ... "GOP members of Congress face Trump foes at town halls," by AP's Alan Suderman in Blackstone, Va. (60 miles southwest of Richmond):
"Republican U.S. Rep. David Brat, who rode voter anger to a historic political upset [of Eric Cantor] nearly three years ago, was on the receiving end of constituent angst about the Trump administration as he held a town hall in Virginia. ... He was loudly heckled and booed when he defended ... Trump."
"At the town halls, protesters are probing their lawmakers to see if they will veer from some of Trump's more controversial stands, and if they will promise coverage for those currently served by the Affordable Care Act."
N.Y. Times Quotation of the Day ... CHRIS PETERSEN, a pig farmer in Iowa, responding to comments by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act: "With all due respect, sir, you're the man that talked about the death panels. We're going to create one great big death panel in this country."
Tom Friedman, "Meet the 5 Trump Administrations": "It should be clear by now that there are five different Trump administrations swirling before our eyes — Trump Entertainment, Trump Cleanup, Trump Crazy, Trump G.O.P. and the Essential Trump."
1) "Lawmakers Push for Tighter Scrutiny of Chinese Investment in U.S." -- Wall Street Journal page A2, by Kate O'Keefe: "Lawmakers from both parties are mounting efforts to bolster the federal government's scrutiny of surging Chinese investment in the U.S., emboldened by President Donald Trump's anti-China rhetoric on trade."
2) "Republicans make killing consumer protections a top priority," an L.A. Times column, Consumer Confidential, by David Lazarus: "About a half-dozen bills take aim at various aspects of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau it created."
Wall Street Journal front pager, "LONG A CULTURAL ICON, NASCAR HITS THE SKIDS: Stock car's founding family draws criticism as fan interest wanes," by Tripp Mickle (sounds like a driver) and Valerie Bauerlein, who point to "economics and demographics":
Jimmy Kimmel is Variety's cover story before hosting Sunday night's Oscars: "Kimmel will be steering the Oscars at a time when movies are struggling to stay ahead of TV in the water cooler wars. None of the nine movies nominated for best picture is a major blockbuster — though 'Hidden Figures' and 'La La Land' both recently crossed $100 million at the U.S. box office.
"'I would have liked to have seen "Deadpool" get nominated,' Kimmel says of the 20th Century Fox comic-book tentpole that was snubbed in all categories despite getting Golden Globe nominations. 'I do think there's a certain type of movie that's not considered for awards. It's a shame, because there's nothing serious about the movies; they're an escape.'"