Enter, in Trump's telling, Trump: "In 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet."
From a man who seemed to blame the death of a Navy SEAL on those who designed the raid, he offered a raw and emotional tribute to a legacy "etched into eternity."
From a man who has used his Twitter feed as an insult generator –- even after being elected president –- came an unusual declaration.
"The time for trivial fights is behind us," the president said. "From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears."
In that message are shades of the economic nationalism that got Trump elected –- and that he views as key to his policy successes from here.
"Americans must put its own citizens first, because only then can we truly Make America Great Again," he said.
It's not the slogan that will cause quarrels, at least not by itself. It’s the policies that Trump is propagating –- policies that have evolved only minimally from his scorched-earth campaign.
“Obamacare is collapsing -- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice -- it is a necessity," he said. "Why not join forces to finally get the job done, and get it done right?"
Democrats will have plenty of answers to that question. The president’s few enticements for his opponents -– his vision of uniting on paid family leave, clean air and clean water, and infrastructure investments – are likely to be stifled by the facts of his actions, not his words.
Still, the president's tone was striking.
"Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope," he said.
Whether this part of the shift marks a genuine pivot from an unpredictable president, or head fakes from a political figure who's made his name through distractions, remains to be seen. Perhaps this is a president becoming presidential, or a businessman returning to his deal-making roots, or a political shape-shifter showing a new skin that won't last until daybreak.
At bottom, however, this looks like new marketing around a familiar -– and still generally severe – agenda. If there's optimism in America, it’s still confined to a base that's channeled its hopes and expectations into a still-untested president.