Gerow: Trump needs to do these three things for a successful State of the Union

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump will appear before a joint session of Congress to deliver his first State of the Union Address.

The run-up to the State of the Union generally exceeds the main event as the media hypes it for days beforehand. There's more pre-game commentary than on Super Bowl Sunday.

But when the hall of the House of Representatives open and the sergeant-at-arms booms, "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States," the eyes of the world turn to a single man and all distractions are put aside.

The president will walk a gauntlet of members of Congress, many of whom arrived hours earlier to grab a seat on the aisle in order to catch a second with the commander in chief and provide a glimpse of themselves and their momentary glory to the folks back at home.

He'll be greeted by the vice president and the speaker of the House and will stand before both House and Senate members, his cabinet (except the one left behind in case of national emergency), the Supreme Court, Joint Chiefs of Staff and a gallery packed with dignitaries.

All of the trappings of presidential power are on full display and provide a made-for-television backdrop for the president's speech. 

The State of the Union Address is always the president's night and an unchallenged opportunity to shine.

The Constitution requires two things: a report to Congress on the state of the union and recommendations the president wants to make to congress. 

The State of the Union is strong. The economy is soaring, our foreign policy is succeeding and for the first time in years, the "right direction" poll numbers are moving upward.

Trump administration policies are passing The Reagan Test. The country is better off than it was a year ago. 

The stock market is closing at record highs on a daily basis, virtually every sector of the economy is growing dramatically and billions of dollars are pouring back into our economy generating tens of thousands of new jobs. Unemployment is at record lows, especially in the minority community, millions of workers are getting big bonuses and just about every working American is seeing a fatter paycheck thanks to the recent tax cuts. 

Despite rising consumer confidence and belief, by better than 2:1 margins, that things are getting better, President Trump isn't getting the share of the credit most presidents would get in similar circumstances. 

There are several reasons for that, including some self-inflicted language choices, tactics and a media that doesn't want to give him a break. The State of the Union Address is an opportunity to begin to change that.

There are three specific things he can do.

First, he needs to shine the brightest possible light on the accomplishments of his first year in office.

The media hasn't hailed many of his positive achievements, including his scaling back of regulatory overreaches of the Obama administration.

Those were job-crushing, growth-stifling executive actions, made as an end run of congressional authority. Reversing them helped stimulate the economy and get it growing at rates never seen during the previous eight years.

Donald Trump has never shied from bragging about his successes. The State of the Union is no place to start. 

Second, he should build on the successes of the past year by clearly setting forth his legislative priorities and specific proposals to continue fueling economic growth. Look for him to detail his plans to rebuild our roads, bridges and ports and to get comprehensive immigration reform.

He has the opportunity to rally the nation behind his agenda. Using the bully pulpit and appealing directly to the American people in a speech watched by so many is every bit as valuable as daily tweets. 

Finally, he can speak to the hopes and aspirations of all Americans and how his vision for our future aligns with theirs. The president is renown for his skills as a pitchman. He needs to put them on full display Tuesday night.

Americans are optimistic even when times are tough. They look for us to be the "shining city on a hill." They want a future of prosperity and peace. They will rally behind a president who speaks in language that unites us and says that our best days lie ahead.

The specific language of any State of the Union Address is not long remembered. The impressions that it leaves are lasting.

A focus on a thriving economy and what it means to ordinary working Americans to keep more of what they earn, to have stable good-paying jobs and hope for a better tomorrow are the keys.

On the eve of Super Bowl LII, a little Philadelphia Eagles garb might not be a bad idea.

PennLive Opinion contributor Charlie Gerow is the CEO of Quantum Communications in Harrisburg. His "Donkeys & Elephants" column appears weekly opposite progressive commentator Kirstin Snow.

Gerow: There's no denying it: After a year of Trump, we have greater peace and prosperity

One year ago on Saturday, we celebrated the peaceful transition of power and the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States. 

It's been a tumultuous year, but as we reflect, who can argue that we aren't better off today than we were a year ago?

For all of the tweets and ill-advised off-hand comments the Left and the media like to focus upon, most Americans see the policies of this administration working for them. They are more prosperous, more safe and secure, and more hopeful about the future.

Trump's first year passes the Ronald Reagan test: "Are you better off than you were a year ago?" 

Trump promised several things along the campaign trail. One that caused many conservatives to vote for him, despite some misgivings, was his repeated pledge to appoint judges who would adhere to the Constitution and its original intent, not legislate from the bench.

The successful appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch was Trump's first major victory. In getting the fastest Supreme Court confirmation, President Trump gave the nation an outstanding jurist, possessed of exceptional qualities of temperament and scholarship, who has the opportunity to make his mark on American jurisprudence for a generation.

But there was more. The president also got a record number of circuit courts of appeal judges confirmed. Those jurists are in marked contrast to the Obama appointments who were "judicial activists," bent on legislating in robes.

Ditto for the federal district courts where the overwhelming caseload gets resolved. There are now lifetime appointees dedicated to upholding the plain meaning of the Constitution rather than those who want to tinker with it to meet their political agendas. 

The president has been criticized by some for not getting all of his ambitious agenda through congress. But look at what he did.

He successfully used executive action to undo many of the troubling over-reaches of his predecessor. His rollback of unnecessary and job-killing overregulation helped boost the burst of economic growth we are witnessing daily. He was able to dramatically stem the flow of illegal immigration even without congressional action.

His major legislative victory, the tax cut package, is already causing the economy to surge. The Dow shot past 26,000 this week. We've had the two fastest 1,000-point gains in history within the past month. It took until Ronald Reagan's administration for the market to get to 1,000. Now we're talking about a 1,000-point jump in a single week.

No administration would wisely peg itself to stock prices alone. So look at employment, growth in virtually every sector of the economy, consumer confidence and any other measure you'd like. 

Look at what Apple did this week and the repatriation of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of new jobs. Look at millions of hard-working Americans who got big bonuses even before the tax cuts kicked in.

Nancy Pelosi said the Tax Cut and Jobs Act was "Armageddon," the end of the world. That's not what the vast majority of Americans see. That same over-heated hype, which sadly has come to characterize criticism of this administration, came from Paul Krugman shortly after Trump was elected.

He told us that the economy would crater and the market would tank under a Trump presidency. The exact opposite happened. Our economy is soaring at a rate of better than 3 percent annually and is on track to eclipse that mark for the first time in more than a decade. The stock market is at all-time highs on an almost daily basis.

The president promised to destroy the Islamic State, and he's successfully done that. Their caliphate has been eliminated. A year ago, they controlled 25,000 square miles. Today they don't control much of anything geographically. Even their "capital" is gone.

Trump was harshly criticized by the Left for his remarks about North Korea and their thuggish dictator. They predicated all sorts of calamity. 

Today the North Koreans are at the negotiating table and are preparing to send Olympians to South Korea for the winter games. South Korean President Moon Jae-in summed it up, "I give President Trump huge credit for bringing about inter-Korean talks..." 

Of course, there's more to be done. The promised "infrastructure" package, which enjoys bi-partisan support, is yet to move. It's likely to be next on the agenda. Fixing Obamacare remains an open issue, although getting rid of the individual mandate was a big first step.

Any presidency is judged by the nation's assurance of peace and prosperity.

For all the mind-numbing chatter about this tweet and that, the fact remains that there's greater peace and prosperity than there was 365 days ago.