He could be the greatest disaster ever to befall America. He could go down as the man that Made America Great Again. What’s certain is that Donald Trump is the most radical US president for centuries.
Trump’s inaugural speech was predictable — in the sense that we have heard Trump say it all before. In terms of rhetorical brilliance, Obama outdid him dramatically at Andrews Air Base 45 minutes later.
Nonetheless Trump was mind-blowing in the sense that the new president of the United States, a billionaire eccentric, was standing in front of Capitol Hill and attacking ‘the establishment’ for having ripped off the American people. ‘Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,’ he said. ‘Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered – but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.’
The ‘American carnage stops now’, he said. This may sound hammy to some — but it is powerful populist rhetoric. Trump even raised his fist at points. He followed it up with some tweets on his nationalistic ‘America First’ theme. ‘We will bring back our jobs,’ he said. ‘We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth – and we will bring back our dreams!’
Trump is being nicer to the Obamas and Bushes and even the Clintons than he was on the campaign. And in the speech he spoke in rather vague platitudes about unity: ‘And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.’
But he refuses to soften his message — and his message is angry.