Skeptical journalist notices the vast improvement in Trump’s speeches

Perhaps the most underreported phenomenon of the current election cycle is the impressive speed with which Donald Trump learns and changes his game when it comes to addressing crowds.  I don’t think it would be fair to call Andrew Malcolm a NeverTrump, but it would be fair to call him a skeptic – toward all politicians in general, and toward Donald Trump in particular right now.

For those who don’t recognize his name, Malcolm is a veteran domestic and foreign correspondent who retired from the New York Times and joined Investor’s Business Daily and now writes for McClatchy.  (Full disclosure: Andrew and I are on friendly terms and occasionally exchange frank views on the political scene.)

Andrew’s new column today contains some interesting observations:

What you, like many media, might miss is how much improved Trump is as a public speaker. A few months ago his rally speeches entertained the crowds and Trump himself.

But as political messages, they were virtually incoherent. Read just a few paragraphs of this transcript I made of his Birmingham rally. Now, when Trump stays disciplined, he has numbered policy points, anecdotes, entertaining asides, all in conversational style.

More importantly, the words hardliner Trump uttered in Phoenix brooked no compromise, by golly. “There is only one core issue in the immigration debate,” Trump declared, “and that issue is the well-being of the American people…. Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation.”

Everyone must leave and apply to return legally. But Trump’s details could have come from Marco Rubio or other GOP competitors last fall that Trump derided as amnesty. And notice the wiggle word: subject.

First, Trump would secure the border. Then, deport the bad guys. Fix our broken immigration system. And, hey, when all that’s done years down the road, we’ll discuss what to do with 11 million illegals. No real rush.

Now, Trump’s got video clips for firm ads and reasonable ads. At their debate in three weeks, Clinton will charge her opponent wants to sunder millions of Hispanic families.

Trump can smile patiently, shake his head and suggest the Democrat deleted that memory too. Trump will reiterate for the national TV audience of some 60 million the reasonable points he made after a meeting with Mexico’s president. That was a meeting on immigration, he can suggest, that Clinton the fundraiser was too busy to attend.

To which I would add: I expect Trump to be highly solicitous during the debate in the event Hillary experiences some coughing fits, is unable to stand for the full two hours, or needs a break.  Kind concern for her health is a double victory for him, suggesting a compassionate heart in his chest and a barely functioning habitus for Hill.

I have no doubt that Andrew will contiunue to examine Trump skeptically and will let us know if he thinks this change is “for real” as he puts it. 

If you experience technical problems, please write to