I am more convinced than ever that Trump can’t read. I don’t say that to be demeaning. He can’t read and there are many people who share his disability.
He didn’t give a speech. He reminded me of those travelling salesmen who dotted the American West during the years of Manifest Destiny, selling bottles of nondescript elixirs to gullible people. The Washington establishment was sitting beside him as he scolded them “for doing nothing.”
America has never been great, though it aspires to it or, as Robert Browning might have put it, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” It is illogical to postulate that America can return to greatness that it never possessed. “Make America great again” is a huckster’s mantra. Had Trump lost the election, he would have claimed that ‘the election was rigged,’ words which didn’t cross his mind the day after he won. In the weeks that followed, it became less certain whether running for office was his idea or Putin’s influence.
Watching the church leaders give their prayers at the microphone, I wondered if Trump possessed a Faith and, in a nation so adamant about the sanctity of the separation of church and state, I wondered why and to whom their blessings really mattered.
Trump gave the impression to me that he would take America back to the isolation that characterised her before WWII, when she was willing to sell anything to both sides of the conflict. Ignoring the role that computer technology has played in the loss of so many North American jobs, he seemed to be arguing that disadvantageous trade deals were the primary cause of America’s financial difficulties. I thought how ironical that today, with unemployment in America at 4.9%, Trump inferred that trade deals with Mexico and Canada, where unemployment is stuck at 7%, had closed manufacturing plants. Yes, manufacturing for a range of goods had moved to Mexico and Asia but the notion that every job lost could be returned seemed naïve.
Trump didn’t read from prepared text or appear to use a teleprompter. He stood at the microphone with his jacket open, his tie flitting in the breeze, and a promise that he “will return the government to the people.” I couldn’t imagine a more stark contrast between Trump and his predecessor, eight years earlier, who projected a cerebral grasp of issues and a polished demeanor. Trump was campaigning again, selling his elixir to an audience parched by memories of the financial collapse of 2008, too many expensive wars, and too many layoffs.
21 Jan. 2017
The day after Trump’s address, I found a wonderful column by George Will, a highly respected Republican conservative, who wrote:
Twenty minutes into his presidency, Donald Trump, who is always claiming to have made, or to be about to make, astonishing history, had done so. Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor, had promised that the speech would be “elegant.” This is not the adjective that came to mind as he described “American carnage.” That was a phrase the likes of which has never hitherto been spoken at an inauguration.
Oblivious to the moment and the setting, the always remarkable Trump proved that something dystopian can be strangely exhilarating: In what should have been a civic liturgy serving national unity and confidence, he vindicated his severest critics by serving up reheated campaign rhetoric about “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape” and an education system producing students “deprived of all knowledge.” Yes, all.”
Somehow, the day after seemed less daunting but, if I was American, I would be worried beyond words.
Professional. Retired. Canadian.