The first failure: There’s still no coherent agenda.
The purpose of these joint-session speeches is not, actually, to reassure the president’s base that the leader of the country is mentally well. The purpose of the speeches is to mobilize support in Congress and the country for the president’s legislative plans….
Donald Trump omitted to do anything like that. On every one of the issues dividing House from Senate Republicans—tax reform, healthcare, immigration—Trump avoided so much as indicating a preference, let alone leading the way. His line about Israel-Palestine (“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like”) also seems to apply to the issues before Congress: You guys sort it out.
The second failure: There’s still no plan to build a majority coalition to support a Trump program.
Donald Trump’s fierce need for approval has disabled him from acknowledging the strategic fact of majority disapproval. Fifty-six percent disapproval is not an insurmountable obstacle. But how can a leader surmount a difficulty that he insists does not exist?