Tag Archives: Trump inaugural

Politics can be so very poetic

I know I am not the only American who believes this, but the possible partial government shutdown seems to sum up quite nicely the first year of Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency.

Politics can be, oh, so poetic at times.

Such as right now.

It is quite possible that we’re going to wake up Saturday with the government shuttering some of its doors and windows. And think of it: This event might occur on the exact date one year after Donald Trump took the presidential oath of office.

No Drama Obama handed the White House keys over to All Chaos All the Time Trump.

Ain’t it cool? Well, no. It’s not.

The government shutdown, if it comes, will signify to me that Donald Trump’s time as president has come to a form of full circle.

He stood on the Capitol podium one year ago and delivered that dark, forbidding inaugural speech. Then right out of the chute, brand new press secretary Sean Spicer scolded the White House press corps with a scathing rebuke of its reporting of the size of the president’s inaugural crowd.

That, dear reader, set the tone for how this administration was going to conduct business.

So, here we are. One year later, we’re about the close many government offices, denying services to Americans who are entitled to partake of services they pay for with their tax money.

Trump, meanwhile, is chiding Democrats because they insist on a funding bill that takes care of so-called “Dreamers,” those U.S. residents brought here illegally when they were children. Democrats are chiding Republicans over their insistence that a funding bill include money to build a “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border.

The president’s “leadership” on this government funding madness has been missing in action.

I’ll just remind you all that of all the principals involved in this fight, only one of them represents the entire country: the president of the United States.

To borrow a phrase, Donald Trump “is leading from behind.”

Ah, yes. The political poetry of this chaos is so very telling.

As is its irony.

Still waiting for unification

Has it only been less than a year since Donald J. Trump took the presidential oath of office?

Gosh, it seems like so-o-o-o much longer. Does it to you? No need to answer.

I recall so vividly one of the many promises the then-president elect made during the transition into power. He pledged to “unify” the country ripped apart by one of the most divisive, hateful, spiteful and insult-driven presidential campaigns in history.

How’s he done so far as his first year in office approaches?

Umm, not too well.

His fellow congressional Republicans have sought to govern without any help from congressional Democrats. The president has cheered them on.

The only phrase from the new president’s dark, dismal and desultory inaugural speech mentioned “the American carnage,” and how he intended to stop it “right here and right now.” Has it stopped?

Nope. We’ve seen massacres in Orlando, Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs. How has the president responded to them? By blaming Democrats.

The Charlottesville riot perhaps is the nadir of the president’s plan to “unify” the nation. He talked of “good people” among the white supremacist, Nazis and Klansmen who gathered to protest the taking down of a Confederate memorial.

How many “good people” have you ever met who belonged to the KKK, or offered that stiff-armed Nazi salute? I know the answer to that one.

The conservative media are now leading the chorus for the president to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, whose “Russia thing” investigation is proceeding with all deliberate speed. Is that a unifying component? Hardly.

Let’s sum it up.

The nation is as divided as ever. Maybe more so since, oh, the Civil War or the Vietnam War. The president who vowed to bring us together hasn’t made the grade.

The honeymoon he was supposed to get when he took office vanished the moment he began — on Inauguration Day — offering that dark view of the world’s greatest nation.

Unity? We’re far from it, Mr. President.

It’s only been a year since the ’16 election?

We’re about to commemorate the longest political year in many of our lives.

We’ll mark the event this coming Wednesday. One year ago, American voters — in my oh-so-humble view — made a monumental mistake. They elected Donald John Trump Sr. as president of the United States of America.

I might be inclined to wait until Jan. 20 — Inauguration Day — to call attention to this one-year-later moment. Except that the “fun” started almost immediately after the votes were counted.

Hillary Rodham Clinton ended up with nearly 3 million more votes cast for her than for Trump. However, Trump won where it counted, in the Electoral College.

My wife and I remember watching it unfold with some friends in Amarillo. We went to our friends’ home expecting to cheer Clinton’s election as the nation’s first female president. Then came words none of us wanted to hear. They came from longtime Democratic operative James Carville, who said on CNN that, “I don’t like what’s happening” with the vote count.

Trump was picking off states that Barack Obama won twice: Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.

It was game over fairly early.

It’s been a rocky year since the election, don’t you think? Trump got inaugurated and managed to make a mess out of that event, quibbling with reporting that challenged the size of the crowd gathered in front of the Capitol Building.

The new president’s inaugural speech was dark, forbidding and grim. The one comment that sticks in our craw, ‘er, mind is when he said “The American carnage stops right here.” Uplifting, right?

It’s been one hissy fit after another ever since.

One would hope to mark the moment by calling it an “anniversary” of sorts. I won’t use that term to describe this upcoming event. Anniversaries are meant to celebrate things: weddings, moon landings, heroic events. You know. Positive occurrences.

I get that many readers of this blog will disagree with me on this. But  don’t consider Donald Trump’s election as president to be a happy event. It saddens, sickens and frightens me.

And to think it was just a year ago. It seems like an eternity.

(Crowd) size really must matter

You mean we’re still talking about the size of that inaugural crowd this past January? We’re still arguing over whether it measured up to what the brand new president of the United States called it — the largest gathering of human beings in world history … or something like that?

I guess in Donald J. Trump’s world, size matters.

The National Park Service’s inspector general now says the agency didn’t mess with the crowd size estimates of Trump’s inaugural nor did it leak any information to the media.

The Hill reports on the IG’s findings. Read the story here.

This malarkey about crowd size seemed to get under the president’s skin early this year. Various media published pictures showing the crowd gathered in front of Capitol Building at President Barack Obama’s first inaugural in 2009 and compared it to the crowd that heard Trump’s speech this past January. Obama’s crowd was, um, quite a bit larger.

Trump didn’t like hearing that. White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s initial press briefing included a serious scolding of the media for failing to report that the president’s inaugural crowd was the largest in history. The pictures, though, tell a different story.

Will this spell the end of this mini-tempest? Probably not, as long as Donald John Trump is president of the United States.

‘Alternative facts’ will become Trumpster’s new ID

Kellyanne Conway parlayed her experience as a public opinion pollster to a successful run as a presidential campaign manager.

She’s now a senior adviser to the new president of the United States.

Conway now has become the face and the voice of one of the more remarkable verbal miscues many of us have heard in some time.

She talked this morning about White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s version of a silly story dealing with the size of the crowd at Donald J. Trump’s inaugural. Then she referred to something called Spicer’s “alternative facts.”

“Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd then sought to clarify what he heard by responding that there are facts and there are falsehoods.

Thus, a punchline was born.

This business of electing a new president is quite serious, indeed. I don’t intend to beat this horse any deader than it is, but in its way, Conway’s “alternative facts” notion seems to be the perfect metaphor for the discussion that prompted it.

Spicer’s angry rejoinder to the media about their reporting of the crowd size was ridiculous on its face. Then came Conway’s “alternative facts” gaffe.

Conway’s role as senior adviser requires her to speak well of her boss. I get it. Honest, I do. I don’t know what she’s thinking privately, of course, but it seems quite reasonable to believe she might be kicking herself tonight for uttering that silly statement.

Maybe she ought to take a page from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the president’s pick to become energy secretary. Perry said this past week he now regrets calling for the elimination of the Department of Energy when he, too, was running for president.

Conway might consider taking a couple of days away from media representatives and then tell them “I regret” providing so much grist for late-night comedians.

I am one American who would accept her contrition.

POTUS displays a clenched fist

We’ll have plenty of opportunity during the next four years to discuss politics and policy regarding the fellow pictured here.

For the next moment or two, though, I want to inquire about the image you are seeing here. It’s the president of the United States of America, standing on the podium before a yuuuge crowd on the National Mall.

He has just delivered his inaugural speech and he gestures with a clenched fist.

Is that the posture of a man truly interested in unifying the country? Is this how Donald J. Trump plans to bring people together?

It’s been said repeatedly that “words matter.” So does body language. So do gestures. They transmit certain images and reveal, I believe, a certain belief system of the person who offers the gesture.

I am not going to belabor this point. I’ve made it. Now I am out.

I just want to see the president of the United States open his arms, not raise his arm and display a clenched fist.

Ex-CIA boss ‘deeply saddened and angered’

John Brennan believes the new president of the United States conducted a “shameful” display in a most inappropriate place.

I happen to agree with him.

Brennan is the former CIA director who reportedly is “deeply saddened and angered” that Donald J. Trump would stand before the CIA Memorial Wall to chastise the media for its reporting of the crowd size at the president’s inaugural ceremony.


The Hill reported this, quoting former CIA deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro: “Former CIA director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself,” Shapiro said in a pair of tweets.

Yep, that’s the president.

The Memorial Wall contains 117 stars that memorialize the CIA agents who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty for the United States. They are heroes. It’s a place of honor and dignity. It is not the place for anyone — even the president — to make patently political statements.

Yet there he was today. He virtually ignored the sacrifice made by the individuals honored on that wall. The president chose instead to make cheap political points.

The former CIA director is correct. The president’s actions were a “despicable display of self-aggrandizement.”

Sean Spicer: media puncher in chief

Sean Spicer sauntered into the White House press briefing room today and did something quite extraordinary.

The White House press secretary looked the media in the eye and echoed what the new president of the United States has said repeatedly: He called them dishonest.

Think about that. The fellow who will be the president’s spokesman, his point of contact with the White House press corps, took off his proverbial glove and slapped the media square in the face.

And over what? This is the best part.

He challenged the media’s reporting of the size of the crowd at Donald J. Trump’s inauguration. The crowd, he said, was bigger than the media reported. It rivaled the size of the crowd that gathered for Barack Obama’s first inaugural and was larger than President Obama’s second inaugural.

Spicer bitched about pictures he said misrepresented the size of the crowd.

Here we go, ladies and gentlemen. The president of the United States is continuing his campaign to discredit the media. He trotted out his spokesman to lash out at the press corps while he — Trump, that is — was accusing the media of being full of “dishonest people.”

It’s been said that people in power shouldn’t “punch down.” If you’re the president of the United States, you pick fights, say, with members of Congress over policy matters or you argue with heads of state of adversarial nations.

Arguing over crowd size? To be candid, a lot of Trump’s supporters think he’s right, that the media deserve to be taken down, that they are too big, too powerful, too smug, too elitist and, oh yes, too liberal.

Let’s all get ready, folks. There’s much more of this to come. Of that I am quite certain.

Trump does battle with … ‘W’?

Yochi Dreazen has offered an interesting analysis on Donald J. Trump’s inaugural speech in an essay written for Vox.com.

It is this: The real target of the new president’s barbs and brickbats wasn’t his immediate predecessor, Barack H. Obama; rather, Dreazen writes, it was the guy who served before Obama — George W. Bush.

Here’s the essay:


When you think about it, the notion makes sense.

Trump didn’t mention the Affordable Care Act, or the Iran nuclear arms deal or the return of diplomatic relations with Cuba in his inaugural speech. Republicans all across the land have been critical of all three policy issues.

His target instead, if you parse the president’s 16-minute inaugural speech, was the amount of money we’ve spend on foreign wars while neglecting our roads, bridges, airports and rail lines.

Dreazen writes: “Take Trump’s comments about how the US had wrongly ‘spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.’ The president who launched those costly wars — and who was responsible for the bulk of the estimated $5 trillion that the US has spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the bulk of the 8,000 American military deaths in the two countries — was Bush, not Obama.

So, this seems to portend an interesting dynamic as the new president prepares to craft his agenda and present it to a Congress controlled in both chambers by Republicans.

GOP lawmakers do not believe we’ve wasted our effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor do they hold the Bush administration in the same highly negative light that Trump cast on it while he campaigned for the presidency. He called the Iraq War a “disaster,” a “huge mistake.”

President Bush — along with his father, Bush 41 and brother Jeb, the former Florida governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate — returned the favor by refusing to campaign for Trump. None of them attended the GOP convention in Cleveland. They sat on their hands.

I’m going to venture not too far out on the limb here by suggesting that the Bushes are held in considerably greater regard by establishment congressional Republicans than the 45th president.

How will this play as Trump has to work with Republicans who control the flow of legislation and laws? Let’s all hold our breath … and wait.

So much for unity at this inaugural

I have a message to the new president of the United States, if only he receives it.

The campaign is over, Donald John Trump. You won. You’re the president. You promised to unify the country. You could have started when you delivered the inaugural speech. Sadly — in my mind — you didn’t.

What the country heard from the president was a recitation of the themes that won over enough voters to elect him president.

He painted yet again a dark, forbidding portrait of the greatest nation the world has ever known. He talked about job losses, a dispirited military establishment, fear of radical Islamic terrorists, a general feeling that the nation has gone to hell in a hurry.

This wasn’t your typical inaugural speech. It contained little of the high-minded hope that presidents bring to their high office.

Here is the speech in its entirety. Take a look and judge for yourself:


Believe it or not, I was hoping there would be at least a glimmer of recognition of the progress that President Barack Obama made during his eight years in office: dramatic reduction in the jobless rate; revival of the auto industry; huge reduction in the annual federal budget deficit; success in the war against terrorists — including the killing of Osama bin Laden.

None of that came forward.

Interestingly as well was the lack of mention of the dreaded Affordable Care Act, which Trump has vowed to “repeal and replace.” Nor was there a mention of the Iranian nuclear deal that Obama negotiated to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He talked instead of restoring jobs, bringing back manufacturing jobs. Here’s a news flash, Mr. President: Those jobs fell victim to automation, not poorly negotiated trade deals; good luck if you think manufacturers are going to forgo robots for human beings.

I’m going to wish the president well — believe it or not. If he succeeds in all that he wants, more power to him, and to the country he now leads.

Failure, as the saying goes, is not an option.

If only he could have lifted our spirits just a little bit.