The bar is so low for Donald Trump that people praise him when he reads straight from an autocue

CNN poll found more than half of viewers had a very positive reaction to the State of the Union address

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The Independent Online

You might have missed it, but most people think Donald Trump did really well last night. 

His address to Congress - a highly revered formality within US politics - was described by Republicans and analysts as the "pivotal moment" and the "best State of the Union style address in a generation". A CNN poll found that 57 per cent of viewers who tuned in had a very positive reaction to the speech.

Well, it certainly was a pivotal moment. 

He stuck rigidly to the auto cue, and his head pivoted constantly from the left to the right - there were two prompters on either side of the podium. 

In further symmetry, Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan sat behind him on leather thrones, tilting their heads in thoughtful silence as the President pontificated, and nodded and smiled in unison.

It’s not surprising many people, pundits and networks praised the President. More than 60 million people voted for him - he does have strong support across the country.

For a man who normally is accused of racism and bigotry, the speech was remarkably upbeat.

At the disastrous Inauguration speech five weeks earlier, his remarks sounded like an ill-crafted side note from the campaign trail: doom and gloom, rising crime, illegal drug cartels.

But none of that was to be found in the address this week. Instead, he talked about courage, vision, and dreaming big.

Almost every big claim Trump made at address to Congress was false

He has also not tweeted anything remotely controversial since 26 February - a record three days - when he said media reports about his ties to Russia were "fake news" put out by the Democrats.

But before we raise the champagne flute to toast the fact that the hallowed corridors of power have finally appeared to beat the President into submission, let’s not forget what is happening behind the scenes.

He and his cronies are dismantling health care, restarting a failed drug war and eroding protections for women, LGBTQ people, refugees, immigrants and ethnic minorities.

The debate as to whether Trump’s speech was a genuine volte-face or just a performance does the millions of Americans who are severely impacted by the President’s agenda a huge disservice.

It’s also an embarrassing repeat of similar commentary throughout the campaign and the transition team.

In July, it was "Maybe he will become more nominee-like now that he is the Republican nominee". In November, it changed to "Hopefully he will become more Presidential now that he won the election". In January, "Surely he will act in a mature and responsible manner now he has the weight of the Oval Office on his shoulders".

These speculations are more than a disservice, in fact: they are dangerous. They highlight how much in denial liberal Americans are. The more determined we are that he will change - because, surely, we think, he has to change - the more we waste time by distracting ourselves from his agenda, his executive orders and his unelected advisers.

When he is acting inappropriately, he dominates the debate. When he behaves for once, we are obsessed as to whether it will last.

Surely it’s a waste of time - it won’t. Let’s not get distracted in the meantime.

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