On Wednesday afternoon I went to the British embassy in Washington for ‘a tea and champagne reception’ to mark the inauguration of President Trump. Like most institutions, the embassy has struggled to come to terms with the Donald. We all know (thanks to Twitter) that Trump wants Nigel Farage to be the UK representative in DC, which must leave the current ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, feeling a bit tense. Still, Sir Kim managed to draw some big Republican beasts to his party: Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rand Paul and Newt Gingrich to name but four. Everybody said the special relationship was very special — they would, wouldn’t they? — and that, thanks to the Trump-Brexit phenomenon, it would get even better. But they looked spooked.
The day before the inauguration, Nigel Farage was in town. Leave.eu, the campaign group funded by Arron Banks, held another big bash on the top floor of the Hay Adams Hotel, overlooking the White House. I spoke to Steve Hilton and the BBC’s Jon Sopel, who shook their heads at each other and agreed how extraordinary it was that they, Steve Hilton and Jon Sopel, should be at a Farage party on the eve of the inauguration. Farage performed his routine about how 2016 will go down in history as the year that nation-state democracy struck back against the globalists, and everybody cheered as though they hadn’t heard it before.
The next night, after the big inauguration balls, I spotted Farage again, smoking outside the Mayflower Hotel in his red bow tie. He looked plastered. An equally drunk American girl approached. ‘I just want to thank you for whatchoo did with the Brexit,’ she said. Farage thanked her kindly. She then asked if he would mind posing for a photo with her boyfriend. Nigel obliged, but the girl suddenly took objection to his cigarette. ’Sir, you’re going to have to lose that,’ she said. Nigel protested but she insisted, and eventually he hid the fag. Another small defeat for freedom.
Somebody should write a TV series called ‘Farage’s Entourage’ about the ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ or the ‘Brex Pistols’, as they like to call themselves. These are the boozy hangers-on who follow Farage on his post-referendum glory tour. They spend all their time joshing around Nigel, the legend, as they bask in his reflected glory. They seem to have convinced themselves that they got Donald Trump elected, that Brexit was the spark that triggered America’s political revolution. Without Nigel, however, the bravado vanishes. After the cigarette episode, for instance, Farage looked a bit put out and decided to call it a night. All right, grumbled the entourage, and obediently trotted after him to bed. It was almost sweet.
On the day of the inauguration, I got caught up in the protests against Trump on 13th Avenue. I saw trash cans thrown across the street and rocks thrown at shop windows. It was nasty but not scary. Thousands of policemen stormed the scene, and rounded up a few thugs. But the vast majority of the protestors were just babies dressed up as adolescents. They talked a lot about ‘resistance’, fascism and the KKK, and spent much of the time crying. This was partly because of tear gas, but more because they were upset. ‘The police are meant to be on our side,’ sobbed one man-child. He was standing next to a sign that said ‘Fuck the Police’.
The women’s march on Washington on Saturday was similarly juvenile. Lots of girls turned out — half a million by most counts — but nobody appeared to have a firm idea why they were marching. They all just wanted to be part of something. They wanted to wear pink vagina hats to show Donald Trump that they abhorred him (as if he would care). Their banners were confused and sex mad: ‘Don’t DICKtate to my pussy’, ‘Abort Mike Pence’ and ‘I wish my vagina could shoot bullets so the government wouldn’t shut it down’. Even Donald Trump would never be so coarse. Still, the march made some people happy. Afterwards, I walked past a homeless man lying on the pavement, chuckling to himself. ‘This is the greatest day of my life,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen every ass shape in town.’
That night, I went to a house party on 9th Street, NW. A proper American affair — kegs of beer, red plastic cups, and a band singing Neil Young’s ‘Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World’. The girls stood around praising the march and their role in it. The boys said they were feminists, too. I saw one young man nodding gravely as a hottie recited all the correct liberal pieties at him. He turned to his pal and whispered, ‘Dude, this is awesome! All these drunk, emotional girls in one city!’
At some point, four or five Trump fans materialised, and the atmosphere turned. One bloke with a Trump hat had to hold back his drunk girlfriend. She was straining to attack a pair of affluent liberal girls, who were calling her names and insulting her clothes. ‘I’m going to cut her till she bleeds out,’ shouted the Trumpette. Things soon calmed down, but when I left I saw the row had broken out again on the street. The unfortunate boyfriend was still restraining his girl, and the pair were taunting her by chanting: ‘You don’t own Chanel or Gucci!’ I asked them if they realised how snobbish they sounded. ‘What does that word even mean?’ replied the pretty Asian one, with an expression straight out of Mean Girls. ‘Oh my God, do you actually think they’re poor?’ said the other white one. She seemed baffled at the idea of this being a simple case of privilege vs the plebs. ‘Screw you for siding with them!’ she said, flicking out her middle finger as I drifted off towards my Uber. Who says America isn’t great?