Ok, we have to talk. 2016 was what we’re probably going to see described on some History documentary in 20 years time as ‘The gathering storm’. First there was Brexit, then celebrities started dropping like foreign legion soldiers in that scene from Carry on Follow that camel then came, what will be seen as the key moment…
Donald J Trump, was elected as President.
We knew we were in for something special, lets not forget Trump has pretty thin skin and any slight, by anyone remotely famous, usually results in a few choice words on a late night twitter binge by Trump. In fact in 2008 Clinton released the now infamous “3AM” attack advert showing her ready to lead from her bed if needed. The advantage Trump has is he’ll already be awake, in a dark room lit only by his phone’s screen, writing “John Oliver once again being overrated. HBO has contributed nothing of worth since Sopranos. Sad!”
I was hoping that maybe the realisation of the awesome responsibility and even as some occupants have described the loneliness of power would have taken the edge off President Trump, that maybe he would have listened to what Lincoln described as the better angels of his nature, that he may be more Presidential.
That was the first mistake.
Instead what we had in the awkward transition period from November to January was a President-elect who didn’t really seem to do much, he was only accessible via twitter when he took aim at the defence industry, Carrier, GM, China, and then there’s comparing the CIA/NSA/DIA to Nazis for “leaking” the dodgy research on Trump’s connections to the Russian Government.
Then came Friday.
Per the 20th Amendment at noon on January 20th Donald Trump took the oath of office, a man who looked like he wanted the world to end for the hours leading up to it became more energised as he went through the oath, leading to the address.
“Oratory should raise your heart rate. Oratory should blow the doors off the place.”
Sam Seaborn, ‘The West Wing’ S2 E7 (The Portland Trip)
An Inaugural address is the first real taste of how the next 4 years will be; the words uttered during them have become part of the fabric of US History. From Lincoln and his “malice to none”, Roosevelt and “nothing to fear but fear itself”, and Bush’s “thousand points of light”, they set the tone of the Presidency. Trump has never given what we would think of as an address; yes there’s been campaign speeches but how much of what he’s said has actually been in the speeches is anyone’s guess. I even hoped that his team contained a capable writer (not that I can really judge but this post isn’t going to be seen by millions, or 3 people if you’re CNN)
This was my second mistake.
Trump’s speech was like a monkey sneezing on alphabet spaghetti, it was more like a caricature of what we all joked would be a Trump speech if it was written by a Tea Partier on an acid trip. There was guff about opening hearts to patriotism then a lot about God, a concept that Trump has rarely mentioned, he did well to try to keep that aspect of US elections out of his campaign; which is what made it more jarring. More concerning to anyone familiar with Modern US History or any interest in World War two was the overuse of the phrase “America First”.
For those who don’t know, America First was a non-intervention pressure group active in the USA until 1941 (and the attack on Pearl Harbor) they preached strict non-interference with the War in europe, no lend-lease, no escorting convoys part way, nothing at all. It also is heavily tainted with anti-Semitism and outright nazism. Trump for all his boasting isn’t necessarily a dumb guy, we’d be wrong to think of him as a punchline in a “made in China” suit but Interwar US political movements may, and probably aren’t his strong point.
However Trump like all modern leaders rarely write their own speeches and the architect of his inaugural was Steve Bannon a white supremacist who almost certainly knew what “America First” originally meant and how it is still used in far right (screw this “Alt-right” nonsense and call them what they are) circles and it was the dog whistle, the call to them saying “we’re in”. I mean we’ve probably seen the videos from the Deploraball or the meetings with the Nazi salutes and “Hail Trump”. We know what we’re dealing with now.
Trumps speech could be played in black and white, it could be played in black and white and the only thing missing would be the red banners and the Koniggratzer march. Leni Riefenstahl‘s reanimated corpse behind a camera wouldn’t have looked out-of-place.
The following contains dodgy psychoanalysis from a person whose total knowledge of the area is that if you’re a therapist and an analyst you don’t want to shorten that down on a business card.
You would think after that he would get down to work and start ‘Making America great again’ but he wasn’t done.
See Donald has a problem, he’s the stereotypical rich guy, he’s been surrounded by yes men, he’s probably never once doubted his ability, or had anyone close to him doubt it. He’s Mr. Burns, but younger and with more “hair” [Citation needed]. He craves the attention and credit for everything he has a deep-rooted desire to be loved. When Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep publicly humiliate him and people laugh or agree that hurts, he’s known to be thin-skinned he can’t comprehend that he’s this object of ridicule it doesn’t bother him when it’s you, or I, over twitter, but these are celebs, they’re people he craves the love from more. When he’s mocked by them it hurts.
When CNN posted pictures showing the crowd at the inauguration he flipped, it wounded him that this liberal elite were sneering at him he had his press secretary go out in front of the Press Corps and humiliated him trying to justify and berate the media for the lies it shattered this worldview that he’s loved, that everyone is shouting “Boo-urns” at him even God turned up and held the rain up while he spoke (he didn’t and it didn’t)
We’re not dealing with an ordinary “bad” President. We’re dealing with an egotistical maniac who deep down is craving attention and I suspect just wants recognition, we’re dealing with a man who likes the trappings of the Presidency but not the responsibility, we’re dealing with a populist. A dangerous man who will do untold damage to the fragile republic. We’re dealing not with satan, but with the guy who runs to 7/11 to buy satan a pack of cigarettes.