nybody expecting President Trump to lay down arms and surrender his campaign once he got to Washington and give some kind of soaring inaugural address filled with gauzy political Pablum was sure in for a shocking dose of harsh reality Friday.
Instead, President Trump delivered an unflinching speech vowing to keep every one of the promises he made over the past year and a half as he slogged his way to the unlikeliest of victories after defeating more than a dozen Republicans and one deeply entrenched Democrat.
It was not a speech for all the Washington dignitaries gathered in the high seats on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol ensconced in all the pomp and circumstance. Mr. Trump’s was a speech for the American people who pay for all of it.
The first line of his speech made crystal clear he was not backing down.
“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuilt our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.”
What a stunning rebuke of former President Obama, previous presidents and all the politicians from both parties sitting all around him. After years and decades of fiscal profligacy, partisan bickering and shameless dishonesty at the hands of all these people, the country needs to be rebuilt and promises must be restored.
From there, it was a machine gun of damning denunciations of everyone and everything that surrounded the newly-minted president.
“Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning,” he said “Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another — but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.”
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed.”
Lucky for the people gathered around Mr. Trump, they are incapable of shame. So they clapped politely. But he was still not done.
“The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.”
After the speech, Mr. Obama shook Mr. Trump’s hand and said, “Good job.”
Just like the past eight years, I guess, Mr. Obama was not listening.
Certainly, Mr. Trump’s speech was not a Republican one or a Democratic one. It was not conservative or liberal.
Over the past few decades, Washington has been run at times by Republicans and by Democrats and by conservatives and by liberals.
“Conservative” Republican rule gave us the largest expansion of a government entitlement program in American history. Under “liberal” Democratic rule, we got the largest expansion of the federal government into the deepest, most personal aspects of our private lives.
Mr. Trump’s speech — like his campaign — was a populist one vowing to stick up for forgotten America.
It was pretty harsh medicine, to be sure. We all would prefer a soaring message about baseball and apple pie. But unfortunately, in America, the baseball game has been rigged and the apple pie is poisoned.
That is not Donald Trump’s fault. It is not his doing. And maybe he cannot fix everything he has promised to fix.
But at least he recognizes the grave problems and is willing to address them. No matter how damning it may have been for the crowd sitting all around him.
⦁ Charles Hurt can be reached at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.
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