“My fellow Americans, this is a season of great hope,” is how Donald Trump begins this week’s White House address.
Easter, he continues, is a time when “we are grateful for the tremendous blessings of this land, our home”.
After campaigning on a message of fear and delivering an inaugural address remembered for its depiction of “American carnage” - all rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones – the US president sounds like a man reborn, using the holiday weekend to deliver his most optimistic vision yet.
He celebrates the country’s tradition of religious freedom and offers hope to those living in hardship.
“From the beginning, America has been a place that has cherished the freedom of worship,” said a president who has still not been spotted at church in Washington. “That is the promise the first settlers saw in our vast continent—and it is the promise that our bravest warriors have protected for all of our citizens in centuries since, a long time ago.”
It comes at the end of one of his most positive fortnights in office.
His muscular response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons was welcomed by many political opponents, who see his foreign policy taking on a more conventional position as hardline advisers such as Mike Flynn or Steve Bannon are jettisoned or sidelined.
Matt Lewis, who chronicles the recent history of the Republican Party in his book Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Went from the Party of Reagan to the Party of Trump, said the past month suggested the president was learning on the job.
“My hope is that this is not an aberration but this is a Donald Trump who has accepted the responsibility that he has in a dangerous world and is providing leadership,” he said.
A mixture of better counsel and a reverent attitude, he added, seemed to have brought a new approach.
“It’s the season of miracles and so maybe Donald Trump really is changing,” he said.