Well, what can I say? Donald Trump is now officially President Trump; no great surprise, as his inauguration was advertised well in advance of the event. The talking point in the week leading up to it was the paucity of performers willing to participate, though I was relieved to be spared all that as a viewer. A Presidential inauguration ceremony isn’t half-time at the Superbowl, and I don’t recall entertainers being an intrinsic element of the ritual on the steps of the Capitol Building before the ‘Rumours’ Fleetwood Mac line-up reunited for Bill Clinton’s first bash in 1993 – or perhaps the Glenn Miller Band played at one of FDR’s numerous inaugurations and I was unaware of it.
The anticipated protests took place on the streets of Washington, but didn’t get anywhere near the parade route; as far as I can tell, the activities of the masked men were limited to smashing a few windows and – Shock! Horror! – pushing a few bins over. That should send out one hell of a message to the Donald that he’s up against a formidable enemy; ditto that chinless cinematic faux-anarchist Michael Moore, a man who pleaded on camera for Hillary Clinton not to become the Democratic nominee as he listed her failings and then pleaded on camera for the American electorate to vote for her when she did become the Democratic nominee, failings still intact.
The initial entertainment factor at Trump’s inauguration, rather than coming from pop stars, largely emanated from spotting ancient ex-Presidents arriving, none more so than Jimmy Carter, 92 years young; the only living post-Carter President absent was George Bush Senior, currently in hospital. Seeing Clinton, Bush Jr and Obama sharing the same podium did have the look of a ‘Doctor Who’ story when the Timelord’s previous incarnations get together; but it is strange when one considers Trump was sworn-in for the first time when he’s already the same age as his distant predecessors Bush Jr and Clinton are today. After eight years of a President born during JFK’s era, we’re back to the Truman generation.
Watching Trump hold up his little hand and repeat those famous lines certainly had more than a touch of parallel universe unreality about it; everyone knew it was coming, but it needed to be seen to be believed, to finally confirm it had really happened. When rain began to fall as soon as Trump had taken the oath of office and prepared to make his speech, no doubt some would melodramatically claim the Washington skies were symbolically weeping, though watching on TV, all I could think of was wondering what shape his hair might take when exposed to the elements.
Trump’s speech stuck to the core rhetoric at the heart of his campaign when going head-to-head with Hillary – the promise to revitalise the dead industries of America’s rustbelt, to end inner-city gang warfare and to give the country back to the people; what Obama must have thought when the inaugural address of his successor implied his Presidency had achieved very little on the home front probably won’t be known till the 44th President gets round to writing his memoirs; but I doubt Obama was reflecting on all the innocent lives his drones had extinguished during his two terms.
The headline-grabbing statements and choreographed controversies Trump specialised in during both his run for the Republican nomination and his clash with Hillary was akin to the chest-beating bravado that boxers exhibit at the weigh-in before their bout; come the moment he finally achieved the impossible by ascending to the White House, it was expected he no longer had any need to employ such contentious and divisive tactics, something that his unexpected conciliatory attitude towards his opponent re the fate he threatened her with during the Presidential Election seemed to point towards once he won the Presidency. However, Trump’s ongoing Twitter spats suggest it’s simply not in him to tone down his naturally combative nature, even when installed in the Oval Office.
How this nature will play out on the world stage, let alone domestic politics, remains to be seen; and I suppose it is the unpredictability of such an erratic character attaining the ultimate seat of power that is the main cause for concern when it comes to his detractors. At the same time, after years of persistent accusations that politicians are a bland breed straight off the android conveyor belt, having someone as the western world’s unofficial leader who bucks that trend with such brash vulgarity is part of Trump’s appeal, not dissimilar to the way in which many people find the eccentric persona Boris Johnson has cultivated a refreshing alternative to his fellow Parliamentarians.
The curious traditions of the US Presidency, whereby the new man at the top doesn’t take charge till two months after winning the Election, present the incoming holder of the office with customary American theatrically on the day he can actually be addressed as Mr President. As someone who has become a household name as the star of a reality TV show, it seemed fitting for Donald Trump to begin his reign in such settings, though what comes next is something that even Trump has never experienced before – the genuine power to affect the lives of millions who’ve never even seen his crappy television programme. So, strap yourselves in; it’s going to be a very interesting ride.
© The Editor