Amid vocal protests across America, on Jan. 20 the unlikeliest of modern-day political scenarios came to pass, as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Hard to fathom? No doubt. With an entire country full of people to choose from, it was an old misogynistic white guy from New York with a bunch of money, lacking any governmental or military experience that was bestowed the honor of becoming the next commander-in-chief. What’s not to like…
After reciting the oath of office, Trump delivered a brief yet dire 16 minute inaugural address that was chock-full of apocalyptic overtones, with extra helpings of nationalistic and populist themes inspired by isolationists Steve Bannon, Trump’s senior strategist and Stephen Miller, a senior advisor.
Throughout the 18-month campaign the country grew use to hearing Trump deliver his angry message of fear-based rhetoric at densely partisan campaign rallies, but it was chilling to hear this dystopian outlook, lacking in optimism or hope, recited from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. A variety of cures was listed to solve the “American carnage” Trump referred to, but absent explanation for how these might be achieved.
Crime and gangs, drugs, terrorism, immigration, “rusted out factories,” vanishing jobs and failing infrastructure are all legitimate concerns, and there is nothing wrong with putting a premium on security, but banning all Muslims from entering the country, and essentially building a wall around America, locking its doors and sticking our collective heads in the sand is no recipe for making America strong or great again.
“We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first — America first,“ proclaimed The Trumpster.
There was plenty of U.S. jingoism to go around, including Trump’s two simple rules of “buy American and hire American.”
Facts again seemed to be an inconvenient truth for Trump, as several of his insinuations about a declining America failed to match reality. The U.S. violent crime rate is far below its 1991 peak; the economy has gained jobs for 75 consecutive months; unemployment is significantly below its historical average; and participation in U.S. welfare programs has declined.
Admittedly some impacted by the 2009 recession never recovered; retirement plans were decimated; houses lost; some have had to take jobs for less money or part-time; others struggle to retrain for new careers; and a robust discussion should be had about the lack of health plans available to choose from under the so-called “Affordable” Care Act.
These issues helped fuel a public backlash on the political establishment. A mutiny of sorts, that voters depicted as a whiplash reaction to a broken political system, where the Washington establishment served its own interests over those of its people.
While much of that blame belongs to Sen. Mitch McConnell, the obstructionist-in-chief, and his Republican Party, Trump pitched the country on his “I’m rich and beholden to no one” version of a new era in American politics, and the rubes bought it. So here we are with a real estate developer turned reality television celebrity starring in a role as president of these United States.
It took almost no time at all for this fledgling administration to show its paranoid and petty colors as Trump heard attendance at the inauguration was well below expectations, so the victorious outsider took to Twitter and started spouting off how his crowd-size set some bogus attendance record.
Anyone watching could see the vast empty spaces across the National Mall. Prior to the event federal and local agencies anticipated between 700,000 to 900,000 might show up. Crowd counting experts put the number at about 160,000. Metro only reported 193,000 passengers rode before 11AM on the day of Trump’s inauguration. Even the parade route had a notable number of empty seats.
That little display of Trump’s ego throwing a fit was odd, then came the utterly bizarre tirade the following day from Sean Spicer, in his debut performance as Trump’s White House Press Secretary. Spicer stormed the podium and stated that the crowd, “was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” and accused the media of reporting false crowd estimates to “lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration.”
Again those pesky facts got all in the way of a perfectly good lie. Spicer fictitiously stated that 420,000 people rode Metro on the morning of Trump’s inauguration, while only 317,000 rode on the morning of Obama’s inauguration. Fact is 1.1 million rode on the day of Obama’s first and 782,000 on Obama’s 2013 inauguration.
Questions about crowd-size and why Trump and his team continued releasing intentionally false information were posed to Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor and spokesperson, in an interview on Jan. 22 with NBC’s Chuck Todd. In her frustrated response Conway attempted to utilize the concept of “alternative facts” as a means to explain away what clearly was compelling evidence that Trump was simply making up crowd-size estimates. This caused all who heard it to pause in their tracks, as clearly the Trump administration was fine with completely making up lies to create a fake reality to fit what they attempted to pass off as truth. To which Todd replied “alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.”
That’s our boy Trump. He gets in office quick to lie early and often. This crowd-size obsession went on for weeks, submarining any positive press he might have garnered. I can hardly wait for all his self-agrandized “easy” job creation, negotiation of more favorable trade deals, reform of the nation’s health care, and border wall building.
“America will start winning again, winning like never before,” declared The Trumpster. Pardon me if I don’t hold my breath until all this “winning” begins.
Honestly it was George W. Bush who summed up the conclusion to the Trump inauguration best. “That was some weird shit,” the 43rd president was overheard saying.