(CNN)Forty days after he began his presidency with a dark and foreboding inaugural speech, President Donald Trump on Tuesday night spoke in broadly optimistic tones throughout his first address to a joint session of Congress.
A tale of two speeches: Comparing Trump's inaugural to his address to Congress
If Trump's words on January 20 bore the tone of his divisive campaign, his remarks on Capitol Hill were remarkable for just how much they resembled similar speeches from his predecessors. Opponents and critics will note that, in its substance, Trump did little to back down from his most controversial plans.
But his nods to the more conventional tropes of the genre created an unlikely juxtaposition.
Let's compare then -- and now.
Then: "For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost ... while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land."
Now: "... While we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms."
Then: "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."
Now: "That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart."
Then: "We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon."
Now: "America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world."
Then: "The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world."
Now: "A new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp."
Then: "We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action -- constantly complaining but never doing anything about it."
Now: "Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party. It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history."