A handful of beltway and mainstream media outlets appeared impressed by President Trump's address to Congress; Politico called it "disciplined" and wondered if Trump was headed for re-election. "Presidential Trump" ran the banner headline on CNN.com. Even liberal pundit Van Jones declared, "He became President of the United States in that moment, period."
That's despite the President doubling down on some of the administration's most controversial policies, like building a wall along the Mexican border and detaining and deporting large numbers of unauthorized immigrants.
But Democratic lawmakers who witnessed the speech had a very different reaction, describing the experience as dystopian and surreal.
“To me, it actually felt a little bit like The Hunger Games at points," Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told the Huffington Post. "There was something kind of dystopian, science fiction about the experience,” he said. “I looked up and I saw [former House Speaker] Newt Gingrich and suddenly I felt that I was transported to a different world.”
Raskin also noted that the difference between this speech and others delivered by the President was more a matter of tone than policy. “The basic Steve Bannon program was still there,” he told the Post.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) told Post, “It was a surreal experience. We have a reality show host in the White House masquerading as the president of the United States of America and half the country is still in complete shock.”
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) also called the experience “surreal.”
“I’ve got news for him this is not reality TV, this is the real deal,” Crowley said.