By The Telegraph of London

For a president who enjoys confrontation, Donald Trump’s first state of the union address was unusually emollient and conciliatory. After a year in office, he seems ready to try to generate some of the plaudits he feels should be forthcoming for the country’s economic success. In truth, much of the increase in employment dates from before he became president but the art of politics is to claim credit even when it is not fully deserved.

Still, Mr. Trump’s tone and demeanor were noticeably different in the Capitol on Jan. 30, as though he was making a deliberate, almost Herculean, effort to be nice. It could all be undone with a moment’s tweeting, of course; but if the president really is serious about mending the deep societal divisions in America, which he personifies, then he should surely be encouraged in that endeavor.

As was noted by observers, his speech contained less about himself than any other he has made. He used the word “we” 130 times and “I” just nine. For Trump watchers who see him as an egomaniac this must have come as a shock. For Democrats whose recovery relies upon exploiting the deep antipathy to the president among a section of the population, it must have been alarming.

Mr. Trump shored up his base by promising to keep open Guantánamo Bay (which Barack Obama failed to close after eight years) and reaffirming his pledge to crack down on immigration. But he showed a willingness to pivot to the centre, easier now that Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, has left the White House. With midterm elections later this year, Mr. Trump is playing a better political game than his detractors expected.