We were told Donald Trump would be displaying his “philosophical” side in his inaugural address. To me, sitting beneath a grey Washington sky, it looked pretty much the same as the bombastic side that we saw so much of during the campaign.
In short he stood on the steps of the United States Capitol, symbol of American democracy, surrounded by past presidents, senators and representatives, waved to the crowd and then promised to blow it all up.
He painted a bleak picture of America – all drug-addled families and shuttered factories – just as he had at the convention last year. This time he added a new chapter. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he said. “We are one nation, and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.”
He promised to return government to the people, snatching it back from professional politicians who have been living high on the hog. His audience – tens of thousands of people stretching down the National Mall – lapped it up.
I sat among members of an Arkansas delegation, listening to their Southern coos as they admired Melania’s outfit – “very Jackie O” – and fretted about the crowd’s reaction to Barack Obama appearing – “I won’t boo Obama”.
These were old-style Republicans, the sort that existed long before Donald Trump ever thought about entering politics, and who grimaced at the lack of manners displayed as the crowd booed Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democrats in the Senate and the closest thing to an official head of the opposition.
But just as they had been during the campaign, they were thoroughly won over by Trump’s words.