Donald John Trump is now the 45th President of the United States. He made that abundantly clear on a crisp afternoon in Washington on Friday. His clearly combative speech made it clear he was a president that planned to work for America. Now we will see if can.
The old campaign-style speech was still there. There were no diluted sentences or soft touches to any of his words. Unlike some past presidents at their inaugural address, he did not pivot upon taking the oath of office. His address took a little over 16 minutes and promised voters he would stand up to the Washington establishment.
He briskly proclaimed, “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. … While they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.”
It was pure Trump, start to finish, with a twist. Trump made several pleas for unity, including a Kodak moment at the Congressional luncheon afterward where he said, with Hillary Clinton in attendance, he urged her to stand and accept the loud applause. He also showed he is willing to backslap members of Congress, something his predecessor was famously averse to doing.
With the bar set so low by an unforgiving and hostile mainstream media, Trump was scoring points with his first impression. There was no aloofness present in this man. He turned on the charm when he appeared with lawmakers at the Capitol to sign his first orders as president.
He presented himself with openness and joked with congressional leaders in both parties. He offered them pens after signing the papers, which included formal nominations. Was this the monster the media had described during his long and often bitter campaign?
He even teased arch rival House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi which seemed to disarm her. But it’s not clear how far the charm will take him. After all, January 20, 2017 ushered in an unimaginable new reality for the Democratic Party and their future. They have lost the presidency and are the minority in both Houses and soon to see the reality of a conservative-sided Supreme Court.
Friday was supposed to be the day Hillary Clinton was sworn in as the first female president. Instead the country will now move in an entirely different direction. That starts with the dismantling of Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.
Democrats will find Trump virtually unstoppable for the next two years. Republicans have full control over the executive and legislative branches of government for the first time since 2007. There is little doubt that Barack Obama leaves Washington with his party in disarray at both the state and federal level.
There will be voices speaking out including Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and a a few other notables. Friday was a tough day for them and dozens of Democratic lawmakers boycotted the day’s events.
That didn’t stop Donald Trump.
Less than an hour after taking the oath of office, the White House’s web-page on climate change disappeared. Trump’s first two Cabinet nominees, James Mattis and John Kelly, were confirmed by the Senate. Government agencies are bracing for massive budget cuts, as battles loom large over Trump’s first 100 days.
Perhaps incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said it best. “It will be a daily something. When I say ‘something,’ maybe it’s a gaggle, maybe it’s an on-camera briefing. Maybe we solicit talk radio and regional newspapers to submit questions, because they can’t afford to be in Washington, but they still have a question. Maybe we just let the American people submit questions that we read off as well.”
A new day has dawned and there is little doubt the atmosphere of Washington with it. But like presidents before him, Trump will now set the tone for what lies ahead the next four years of the republic.