Let's all take a deep breath before we heap more praise on President Trump for his speech Tuesday evening. He read it verbatim from a Teleprompter. The likes of Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway surely had a heavy hand in writing the speech. Bannon, Conway, and Trump are master readers and manipulators of public opinion. It would be the height of naiveté to ignore the near certainty that large portions of that speech were based on strategy, not principle. It was delivered precisely, like a weapon. It wasn't heartfelt. It was a reading. As further evidence, consider the fact that Trump's signing of new immigration rules has been delayed so that he can bask in the afterglow of a "successful" speech. I thought we didn't have a day to spare lest the terroristic hordes pour across our borders! Turns out we've got a few days. Who knew they'd love him so much after that speech? No big deal.

Jeff Parker, Eden Prairie

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President Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress was a continuation of his campaign with a new twist ("Does Trump tone signal a real shift," March 1). Pointing to and referring to the Democrats on more than one occasion, the president issued a challenge to them to work with him on a variety of issues. The Democrats, for the most part, signaled little agreement on much of what he said. Certainly they are still in denial over the losses sustained in the last election. But there is work to do and a nation to rebuild.

If the Democrats refuse to participate in much of the revitalization work that will be undertaken, they will suffer for it. If they choose instead to construct roadblocks to the president's agenda, they will diminish their standing further. At some point in the near future, Americans will begin to reject the negativity of the Democrat Party. Citizens are looking ahead with a renewed spirit to meet challenges for the next generation. Anything less than that is not acceptable.


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How will President Trump deliver on his promises? Most of us know the rational answer to this question — he won't. However, I am concerned about a future where Trump and the Republicans try to convince us that these promises have been fulfilled when they have only been fulfilled in theory. Trump surrogates are already projecting a rosy future that will presumably come to pass after Trump policies have been enacted.

Sen. Ted Cruz was asked on a morning talk show how the president and the Republicans could enact massive infrastructure spending and defense increases without massively increasing the deficit. He said that economic growth due to Trump policies would take care of the deficit — that perhaps the economy would even grow at a 5 percent rate. The Congressional Budget Office is projecting 2.1 percent annual growth, and, in my reading, most economists predict that even 3 percent growth is unrealistic. If Trump is allowed to get away with submitting a budget with unrealistic projections, the Republicans can vote for it and pretend they are fiscally responsible.

These same rosy predictions can assure us that the Affordable Care Act has been replaced with something better when the something better is just a theory. Or that gutting the Environmental Protection Agency will not increase pollution because, well, it just won't.

It is incumbent on all of us as concerned citizens to force Trump and the Republicans to realistically assess the impact of their policies and to inform rather than mislead the American public.

Phillip Williams, Mahtomedi

CEO took the wrong approach from the start of his tenure

The current problems for Target arrived the day Brian Cornell was hired as CEO ("Target's stock price feels the brunt of a difficult quarter" and "Target CEO vows to reset for long term," March 1). He came in with his machete, swinging first, not taking any time to understand or respect Target's panache.

Target was the spot to get a curated, styled look at new dishes, appliances, kid clothes, furniture and accessories. Instead of understanding that as part of Target's brand, he focused in groceries. Groceries were a bonus at Target, not a destination. The reason for Target was the cool stuff.

Canada debacle aside, previous Target CEOs understood what made Target Target. Cornell didn't bother to figure that out. Plus, not investing from day one in a top notch website is inexcusable in an Amazon world. Now there is an extra discounted price to pay.

Penny Van Kampen, Edina

Judge her only on her efforts for her district and for the state

The lead letter on Feb. 26 expressed concern about state Rep. Ilhan Omar's marriage difficulties ("Getting no grief on marriage status because of her religion?") but failed to recognize the constitutional separation of church and state. Any church may consecrate a relationship that is not recognized by law or other churches. Indeed, this was quite common before same-sex marriage was legalized, and local churches in parts of the American West continue to consecrate polygamous marriages.

On the other side, some churches refuse to recognize a civil marriage performed by a justice of the peace. Some churches also refuse to recognize the remarriage (religious or civil) of a legally divorced person.

Rep. Omar was elected by her district. She should be judged by the quality of her service to that district and the state of Minnesota.

Dave Drummond, Bloomington

No, don't rename it after the late conductor — or at all

A Feb. 25 letter writer suggests renaming Orchestra Hall after Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (who died last week). All I know is what I heard a long time ago from a Minnesota Orchestra player regarding Skrowaczewski as a great conductor:

"Yes, he cuts a nice figure up there, and audiences love to see that, but we as players don't follow what he's doing; we play among ourselves and make it look like we're following him. He's in a world of his own, conducting some mythical orchestra in his head but not the one in front of him. My advice would be how a jazz band leader should conduct: Start the tune and then get the hell out of the way." The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra sees merit in this, too.

If you're going to rename Orchestra Hall (please don't), how about Neville Marriner Hall? He was respected by all.

Ted Unseth, Minneapolis