At several points in his brief political career, Donald Trump has tried, as he calls it, to be presidential. He’s tamped down his freewheeling speaking style to read from a teleprompter, which he once jokingly threatened to outlaw, and stuck to a more traditional script.
On Tuesday, he did it again, delivering his first-ever address to the nation from the Oval Office amid the second-longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
As at those other moments, the fact that Trump was straining to be presidential said more about the stakes than his words. Facing a Democratic House determined to stand up to him, Trump has put all of his chips on a dramatic showdown over his campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican border.