Peggy Noonan: Will Trump’s bracing clarity make things better or worse?

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close Eric Shawn reports from the United Nations on the president's first address to the General Assembly

Trump takes 'tough' message on North Korea to the UN

Eric Shawn reports from the United Nations on the president's first address to the General Assembly

I’m not sure President Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly has been fairly judged or received. It was a strong speech—clear, emphatic, remarkably blunt. The great question is whether the bluntness will tend at this point in history to make things better or worse. We’ll find out soon enough.

Often Mr. Trump grows bored with prepared speeches and starts throwing in asides and improvising adjectives. But he was committed to this speech and focused: It looked like Trump believing what Trump was saying. Detractors say, “Oh, his speechwriters just put something in front of him,” but all presidents, from the most naturally eloquent to the verbally dullest, have speechwriters. The point is what a president decides he wants to say and how he agrees to say it. In the end he directs what goes in and what comes out.

Mr. Trump explained to the U.N. the assumptions he sees as driving his own foreign policy, which showed a proper respect for the opinion of mankind. He outlined the central problems facing the world as he sees them—a tradition in such speeches, and a good one, for it matters what an American president thinks.

Mr. Trump’s speech was rhetorically dense, in that a lot was in it and little time was wasted. There were moments of eloquence—the U.N. must not be complacent; we cannot become “bystanders to history.”

To continue reading Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal, click here.

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