Analyzing President Trump’s inaugural address

President Donald Trump

President Trump’s inaugural address eschewed the literary finesse that most presidents strived for, and instead drove home one of the most confrontational, populist speeches ever uttered in this setting. It could have been Huey Long up there.

“While they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for people across our land. That all changes right here and right now. This moment belongs to you.”

Trump made no separation from populist rhetoric of the past, instead seeming to embrace a mix of the economic populism once owned by Democrats, and the skepticism of foreign powers once owned by isolationists.

“From this day forward it’s only going to be America First. America First,” repeated Trump.

Nearly all of the “greatest hits” from Trump’s campaign rhetoric found their way into the speech. But Trump also paid new attention to the prospect of massive infrastructure projects across the country. No one has seen the specifics yet, but Trump held nothing back in description of near every kind of modern wonderment to be built. All of which will put Americans to work, he said.

Trump also finally reached out to a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural America, parts of which see Trump’s presidency as a threatening regression to racial and religious discrimination.

“Whether we are black, or brown, or white, we all bleed the red blood of patriots,” said Trump.

Many people out there don’t like Trump or some of the specifics he’s proposed. They have good reasons. Trump stood as one of the most divisive candidates in history, seemingly by strategic design. Many of his vague proposals — such as the Muslim travel ban or Mexican border wall — seem rooted in xenophobic, racist ideology. He railed against elitists from an apartment that has golden bathroom fixtures.

Nevertheless, Trump’s speech this morning was an effective populist introduction to Trump’s first weeks in office. I expect it will be well regarded by most Americans. Had he used more of this approach during the transition he wouldn’t be going into office underwater in popularity. It won’t go down as a rhetorical masterpiece, but that’s not Trump’s brand. It was probably the most effective speech I’ve seen him give, grim though it may be.

Trump’s advantage going into the messy arena of legislation and negotiation is that he has claimed, almost without resistance, the mantle of populism. Even though he failed to gain a majority of America’s votes (or even a plurality!) he now signals a coalition that will be difficult to defeat over the next few years. For instance, if Congressional Republicans, labor unions, and newspaper editorial pages all start touting Trump’s projects, what argument will Democrats be left with?

As I’ve written, these are times of pathos. And that was a pathos speech.

Logos and ethos may have their day. That day was not today. And the people cheered, as they have so many times before.


  1. The shorter layman’s version of what he said is – Individual freedom is our nations most precious commodity and if we are not eternally vigilant, government will take it all away. With a vengeance through thousands of new laws and illegal edicts they have been…and that’s about to stop.

    • Scott Dahlquist says

      The guys a pathological liar. How can one believe a single word he says?

      • I’d state it a bit differently….he’s a first-class America first negotiator.

        But for those unfamiliar with negotiating and think he’s a pathological liar, it sure exposes the fact his opposition was a few levels below pathological liar (pounded her in the ground by winning close to 60% of the vote). Not sure what the word is for that…crooked??

    • That is an interesting interpretation considering the address mentioned nothing of individual freedoms or smaller government, but I can accept that people hear things differently.

  2. John Ramos says

    Massive government infrastructure projects putting people to work? That’s a lefty idea. I’ve been wanting something like that for years–as long as the infrastructure is more than The Wall.

  3. John Ramos says

    If the Repubs are on board with the massive deficit spending such projects would entail, then let’s go.

    • Corydon Kolodji says

      Well, you cannot attack his reputation. You cannot smear him–what could you imagine that would not be true and known and accepted. He is immune to slander. With expectations so low, he can only succeed.

  4. John Ramos says

    I’ll make a prediction: I think Trump is going to be the biggest-spending president the world has ever seen. I think our national debt, already unimaginable, is going to climb to otherworldly proportions. Whatever efficiencies he realizes and good deals he makes by drawing on his business background will be overwhelmed by his spending. He has never talked about balancing the budget; nothing about his personal life suggests frugality or restraint. He is a monument-builder, and with the purse of the American people at his disposal, he would be able to build some pretty gigantic monuments. And I think he will.

    This all just struck me suddenly, but it seemed obvious once I thought of it. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But let’s look back in four years and see.

    • It is very hard to tell what Trump is going to do at this point.

      He has spoken about infrastructure spending, but in his confirmation hearing Commerce Secretary designate Wilbur Ross said that the infrastructure program would take the form of offering about $130 million in tax incentives to businesses to try to stimulate $1 trillion in private infrastructure investment, which would be paid back to the businesses in the form of tolls on roads and bridges, rental and other charges for prisons and other buildings, and fees for water, sewer, and other services, with the businesses turning a profit on the investments.

      Trump has spoken of representing the little guy, but has appointed the largest collection of economic elite people in the history of Washington, including an Exxon executive who has called for the US to get involved in military confrontation with China to protect a highly speculative Exxon venture in the South China Sea, a banker who ran one of the worst banks in the Bush crash and foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of people, and a person who married into a pyramid scheme fortune and who has said that private and charter schools should replace public schools, but who rejected the idea of the government auditing either the finances or the performance of those schools — perhaps not surprising since the charter schools she organized in Michigan have one of the worst performance records of schools anywhere.

      As to deficits, yes there will be large deficits if Trump passes both his proposed tax cuts and follows through on the military and other spending projects he has discussed. The GOP congress appears suddenly less worried about deficits, perhaps based on realizing that Bush II and Reagan both had deficits that set records at the time after passing deep tax cuts, and that the idea that tax cuts will pay for themselves has pretty much been disproven by history in repeated efforts in the last 50 years.

      Anyhow, it is too soon for anyone — left, right, or center — to speculate what Trump will actually do, since he constantly has contradicted himself in public statements, and his appointees have contradicted each other and him. We will know what he will do when he actually does something, and not a moment before.

      • Sorry, typo. Ross promised $130 billion in tax incentives, not million.

      • No Gerald…I don’t think it will be hard to tell what Trump is going to do…

        “All References to ‘Climate Change’ Deleted From White House Website at Noon Today.

        ‘At 11:59 am eastern, the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it. At noon, at the instant Donald Trump took office, the page was gone, as well as any mention of climate change or global warming.’

        By: Marc Morano – Climate Depot January 20, 2017 12:59 PM with 0 comments
        WASHINGTON, DC — A climate of change! Perhaps the most stark contrast between the Obama administration and the Trump administration is on “global warming”. The climate differences were visible today as the White House website was scrubbed of all references to “climate change” at exactly noon today just as President Donald Trump was sworn in”.

        • I don’t think it is hard to tell what Trump will do with climate change — he is a denier.

          More to the point is what he will do with the budget, specifically what he will do to close the gap that will result from the tax cuts that both he and Congress are agreed on, or if he is willing to accept deficits that will make Obama look like William McKinley. What he will do for the “replace” part of “repeal and replace” for health care, and if he can get congress to go along with whatever replacement he has in mind. What exactly he has in mind about ISIS beyond the heavy bombing and use of drones and “advisors” that has led to the rollback of ISIS in Iraq so far. What he will do in terms of expanding the military and the US nuclear arsenal as he has said he will do. What he plans to do to improve crime from what are already near record lows. What he plans to do about immigration. What he will do with NAFTA. How he plans to deal with the Chinese both economically and militarily. And of course what he really means about infrastructure. And those are just a few of the things he has offered multiple ideas about. You can be the greatest negotiator in the world, but you need a plan when you start negotiating.

  5. As we’ve witnessed, an epidemic of biblical proportion has hit California. The Centers for Disease Control has yet to identify the malady. It seems to be an isolated outbreak impacting liberals, millennials, fashion designers, Hollywood celebrities and the entire primetime lineups of the MSM. With the Range showing such strong support for crazy Bernie, I wasn’t surprised the affliction hit there also.

    NEWS FLASH – The CDC has determined it’s the Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). Known symptoms include feverish sweats and delusional ranting. They’re concerned many other side effects are yet to develop over the next 8 years.

  6. Trump is a very ill man. He exhibits most if not all symptoms of a massive narcissist and he could easily have one or more other mental issues. You don’t have to be a mental health professional to see the man just ain’t right. If you just met a non famous person who acts and talks exactly like Trump and spent even an hour listening to the guy, any sensible person would quickly walk away and breathe a sigh of relief that someone like him isn’t your boss, coworker, teacher, next door neighbor, mayor, health care professional or anyone that has a direct ability to mess with your life in any way.
    He never lets go of a grudge. He’s vengeful. He has to be adored 24/7 and even the slightest hint of criticism even if it’s only in his own mind, he’s off on a twitter warpath. They’re enemies. He even used the word “enemies” yesterday. Hilariously, people on the tv keep saying he needs to pivot or do this or that to look more presidential and show he is taking the responsibility seriously. Not..gonna…happen…ever.
    The Trump team and nominees are swamp critters for the most part. Half a dozen Goldman Sachs people, vulture capitalists, alt-righters (the new fancy name for white supremacists), people with extremely close ties to Russian interests, people with absolutely no experience or knowledge of the agencies he nominated them to and assorted characters with their own power/cashing in agendas. Yesterday Trump said, “We are transferring power from Washington, DC and giving it back to you, the people.” Hah. Don’t hold your breath.
    Who does things like this:
    Trump & team wanted a Soviet/North Korea style inauguration parade with tanks, missiles and missile launchers. The military nixed that idea.
    Trump’s Christmas card was just a tree and Trump raising a clenched fist. No family in the photo. He wished a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to his friends and his many enemies. Now that’s the spirit of the season!
    Trump is still reliving the campaign, over and over again. Even many of his voters want him to get on with the job and stop tweeting.
    Trump mocked the disabled reporter. No one seeing and hearing Trump on the video could miss it.
    Trump saw a girl about 10 years old in a hotel, then turned to reporter or cameraman and said, “I could be dating her in about ten years.” Of course, he also said he’d date his daughter Ivanka…if he wasn’t, like, her father,
    The approval ratings for ACA are pretty high and many Trump voters are getting very worried they will lose their health insurance. No doubt, there are still Trump voters out there who haven’t yet figured out that ACA and Obamacare are one and the same. Republican legislators are already getting heat from their constituents about repealing ACA. They’ve had years to work on a replace, didn’t do it, and they don’t have a replace ready no matter what they are saying now. If they think they can repeal and replace a few years down the road, it’s going to be very ugly. Over 20 million without insurance, including 4 million children, markets in chaos, jobs lost, hospitals losing money and ACA repeal would also affect Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and employer provided health insurance. Heck, they should just keep ACA and call it Trumpcare. Their constituents would probably believe that.
    Trump is totally unfit to be president. Evidently, most Americans think so too. He had the lowest president-elect approval rating ever. Presidents-elect generally have high approval rates during the honeymoon and go down after inauguration. Doesn’t bode well for Trump. The inauguration attendance numbers were not impressive, to say the least.
    Today is the DC women’s march. It’s massive. The metros were overloaded this morning and there are marches going on all over the country and it’s global. The livestreams, videos and photos of the crowds in DC and the marches all over the world are amazing.

  7. 640+ women’s march events on 7 continents, yes, Antarctica too.
    Police and newspaper estimates:
    US: 2.5 million
    DC: 500,000
    Houston: 22,000
    Chicago: 250,000
    Denver: 100,000
    Raleigh: 20,000
    Boston: 125,000
    NYC: 250,000

  8. Yes, dear, the moon landing was fake.

    • OK, shifting from safe space to outer – “It is very sad to see what @BarackObama has done with NASA. He has gutted the program. Over the last 8 years, the Obama-Clinton administration has undermined our space program tremendously. That will change,” proclaimed Trump. “So many good things come out of it, including great jobs. That will change very quickly under a Trump administration.”

      • Starting to sound like a $3 trillion a year deficit.

        • No way Gerald. It took him 8 years, but Obama finally brought about his hope and change….Trump!

        • Gotta look at the “big” picture Gerald. For example, how old is Big Bird, 50? He and public radio can certainly take care of themselves by now…that’s $1 trillion a year alone the feds have been spending on them. NASA would love just half of that. This goofy gobal warming crap…that’s gotta be another couple trillion. Then there’s the postal service, my God! Do you really need snail mail more than three times a week? That’s probably another $5 trillion or so..This would be enough to put all the women marchers on Jupiter..

          • Sorry, wrong again. You really need to start Googling things before you say them, instead of just making them up.

            The federal budget for public broadcasting this year is $445.5 MILLION. It has not increased at all in the last six years.

            The budget for NASA is $18.5 BILLION, or about forty times as much. That has increased steadily under Obama by about 2% a year, although each of his budgets asked for more and were trimmed by Paul Ryan and friends.

            The total federal budget is about $3.8 trillion this year. Trump has announced he will cut about $1 trillion a year from the budgets of the Commerce Department (small business loans, export promotion, etc.,) Energy (research on clean coal and gas and oil extraction . Nuclear weapons manufacture, uranium processing and waste disposal, etc.,) Transportation (roads, bridges, airports, waterways,) Justice (law enforcement, federal aid to police for equipment and training, drug enforcement and rehab, federal prisons, etc.,) and the State Department. He will, as you indicate, end support of public broadcasting and of the National Endowment for the Arts ($146 million,) but that is, as noted, chicken feed. Cutting the rest gets him in a bind as far as his promises, since he is proposing a bunch of spending increases.

            There are obvious contradictions between some of these plans and other Trump plans to expand services in many of the departments, especially including transportation, justice, and commerce. In addition, he has promised new funding for national defense, especially for the navy, new funding for infrastructure, etc.

            The post office, as you surely know, is self funded and outside the budget. Reducing service might hold the price of a stamp steady, but won’t impact the overall budget. The post office “subsidies” many noise makers like to tout are actually not cash payments, but the estimated costs of the monopoly on use of mailboxes, ability to borrow at tax exempt bond rates, and so on.

            But the biggest budget item on Trump’s list is the tax cuts. They amount to a reduction of between $1 trillion and $1.2 trillion a year. So he has to find about $1 trillion to just break even, and that will require deferring the rest of his wish list. If he does any of the spending he promises, he will be borrowing.

            That is why I say we need to wait and see with Trump. He keeps saying a lot of stuff, but keeps forgetting that 1+1=2 A $2 trillion deficit, in this case.

          • Actually, Trump’s math is even worse than I thought. Spent a bit more time with Google and with a spread sheet. The entire budgets of the five departments he is planning to cut by a total of $1 trillion a year is a total of just under $200 billion, and that included all foreign aid administered by the State Department. Let’s see: $200 billion minus $1 trillion is — wait a minute. Even if he totally closed all five agencies, shutting them and the services they provide down completely, he would still need to find an added four times as much money to reach the total he projects. And as we have seen, Big Bird ain’t got that kind of cash.

            In reality, as any student of the budget will tell you, the federal budget consists mostly of medical care (and before you start on that, Obamacare actually runs in the black due to the taxes that the GOP plans to cancel right out of the box,) defense, social security, and debt service. Ryan and Price have promised to actually cut both Medicare and Medicaid, but Trump has pledged to leave Medicare alone, and has waffled on whether he is going to cut anyone out of being insured. Social Security cuts would hit right at the core of Trump’s voters — old white people. Trump proposes to expand defense spending.

            He also of course proposes to cut taxes by $1 trillion or more a year.

            Obviously we are someplace in the orbit of Pluto as far as logic goes here. That is why I keep saying that we need to wait and see what Trump actually does once the off the cuff comments stop and reality starts. The wait should be a short one, since the Dems have no real chance of impact on any of this, since the GOP is in control and since they have already started using reconciliation, which stops the chance of filibuster. The GOP just has to get themselves all on the same page and they can do what they want.

  9. Dick Cheney told us deficits don’t matter.

  10. John Ramos says

    The Feds have been spending a trillion dollars a year on public TV and radio? I think you’re a little addled by victory, R47.

    A trillion is a thousand billion. According to this report, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is slated to receive $445 million in federal funding for fiscal year 2017–about 4/100ths of one percent of a trillion. That might pay for a lug nut on a Mars rover.

    • As 100’s of millions of Trump supporters knew 18 months ago, the first statement you make/first figure you give are simply as starting points for negotiations. You and Gerald are smart guys, you’ll catch on soon… It’s gonna be a fun eight years for those who do. And a lot of TDS for all the others..

      • Trump didn’t make trillions by showing his hand on the first round of betting. Clinton, the mainstream media and of course the liberals are still trying to figure out what hit ’em. Ask the average guy on the street, they read him like a book when he first came down the golden escalator…and loved him.

        • John Ramos says

          I love how Ranger can cite numbers that are off by a factor of 10,000 and come skipping back onstage like he won something.

  11. John Ramos says

    Let’s see, judging by your math skills, when you say 100s of million of Trump supporters, you actually mean about 44,000.

    • You’re a quick learner John. NOW we’re into negotiating 101, grade school level. Just think after eight years how good you’ll be at it…Just an afterthought, can you imagine how boring the next four years would have been if crooked Hillary would have won…politics as usual, business as usual and blah?

  12. In the first 24 hours, that bonehead has already set the stage. If he makes it beyond the first 30 days, I’ll be surprised. First that ridiculous appearance at the CIA, and then a big fuss claiming more people at his inauguration than any other, easily disproved…and really , with all the other serious issues, this is what he focuses on? A very ominous beginning , indeed .

    • Safe space Jackie, find a safe space…quickly. The four out of 87 counties in Minnesota that Trump didn’t carry probably have one set up. St. Louis county, either in Hibbing or Duluth is probably the closest.

    • The CIA is key to your safety Jackie…and they obviously employ a lot of Deplorables, a 15 minute standing ovation when Trump arrived…an amazing and wonderful sight to behold!

      • David Gray says

        You’ll note the actual CIA employees were extremely enthusiastic. The political appointees and press? Not so much.

        • This mistake is not your fault, since it was deliberately set up to fool observers, but the first three rows at the CIA speech were reserved for people who Trump brought with him, and who responded as they as they were paid to do. The press, the CIA top officials (only the head and a few of his immediate staff are political appointees, with most career people,) and the rank and file did not respond one way or the other, as the CIA official policy is not to take sides politically. That does not mean that they do not support Trump, or that they do support him. They just work there.

          • David Gray says
          • That’s a very good unraveling of the clusterf**k that is life in today’s Washington, David Gray. Thanks for the link.

          • It is very important in looking at what Kellyanne Conway calls “alternative truths” to stick with sources that are not completely on one side or the other. Unfortunately, Hot Air is solely devoted to arguing in favor of right wing positions, not to news or neutral analysis. Yet even they admit that the meeting was packed with administration staffers who were there specifically to cheer, but are just arguing how many there may have been and whether CIA personnel may have been cheering in addition to the paid cheerleaders.

            The source of the story here is, as Hot Air admits, the CIA itself, which asserts that no CIA professional was cheering and carrying on at the meeting, since that would have been unprofessional and irresponsible. Right wing sources like Hot Air continue to argue that the CIA itself is biased against Trump, while the CIA argues that they are merely reporting the results of their findings in unedited form.

            The CIA was badly burned when it was pressured to ratify Bush administration claims in the run up to the Iraq debacle, including actually having career professionals threatened if they did not toe the administration’s preferred line — remember Scooter Libby and Valerie Plame? They are trying their best to avoid that sort of thing here, but administrations always (and I would include left wing as well as right wing administrations in that) want intelligence sources and the military to act as echo chambers for their pet ideas and projects. The only thing changing here is the level of belligerence that is the trademark of this administration when the facts get in the way of their wishes. Belligerence worked well for them in the election, and they seem to have decided to stick with it.

            No one argues that there may not be CIA staffers who agree with Trump. The argument is whether those staffers behaved unprofessionally and inappropriately. The CIA says no, which actually gives credit to any CIA Trump supporters as behaving as they should, rather than turning a professional meeting into a circus.

  13. John Ramos says

    My favorite part of Donald’s speech to the CIA, starting at the 11:20 mark, was when he talked about how God turned the rain on and off for him.

    “God looked down and he said, ‘We’re not gonna let it rain on you or your speech.’ In fact, when I first started, I said, ‘Oh no.’ First line, and I got hit by a couple of drops, and I said, ‘Oh, this is too bad, but we’ll go right to it.’ But the truth is that it stopped immediately. It was amazing. And then it became really sunny. Then I walked off, and it POURED right after I left! It POURED!”

    • John….You, me, Donald and Franklin Graham are on the same page on this one. As Graham said around the country at all fifty state capitals – “Let’s lift up the name of Christ. Let’s take our country back”. And look what happened. We did. He also said – “I want to get Christians to run for office at every level. The Christian voice needs to be heard”. And again, look what’s happened. Just under 2,000 secular Democrats fired across the country since Obama took office in 2009, replaced by Christian Republicans. Praise the Lord!

  14. I don’t even know what you’re talking about anymore, Ranger. You’re giddy with victory, man. It just seems like you’ve become a little untethered. It’s quite a show.

    • And to think…at least eight more years of it!

      I feel a bit remorseful though. Crooked Hillary out of work, her “charity” closing it’s doors as the overseas donations dried up, not seeing her in the nightly news, her catching Bill ogling Melania, geez what a disaster. I think she’s gonna need help. I truly pray for her well-being..

    • By the way…..thanks.

  15. It’s funny–before, you used to really irritate me. But now? Not at all. I’m being quite serious about that. I’m just sitting back with my bowl of popcorn and wondering where you’ll fly off to next. Maybe you’ll talk about the kazillions of dollars God will shower on the nation as our reward for electing the chosen one.

    I do think you’ll miss Hillary, though. You can’t stop talking about her.

  16. About a year ago, I mentioned to others – wouldn’t it be nice if the good Lord would take Hillary home to her just reward, she’s worked hard, travelled over a million miles! They’d say – my God, you want her dead! Wrong, my prayer is always – thy will be done.

    So no John, no dollar shower prayers from me, only thy will be done.

    Just think, if Hillary would have been taken home, Crazy Joe Biden would probably be president, certainly not Trump. The Lord continues to work in such amazing ways!

  17. Oh, another thing we avoided with Hillary still alive & kicking is no month long MSM funeral. Whew!

    Nope, the Lord still has further work for her. They say she’s a wonderful Grandma. She’s even said so herself on the campaign trail. Maybe she’ll babysit Chelsea’s kid??

  18. The guy I’m REALLY worried about now is Slick Willie. With his foundation shutting down and Hillary losing, his supply of fresh interns has really diminished. I suppose there’s always Hillary??

  19. ranger truly has gone around the bend .

    • Good to hear you’ve calmed a bit Jackie. No need to give the address of the “safe space” you found. The word will spread as needed. Gods blessing be with you..

  20. Go take a long nap, Ranger, and give your neurotransmitters time to heal.

    • Now’s not the time to be napping! Too much happening Making America Great again. As Aerosmith so aptly said – “Don’t wanna close my eyes, don’t wanna fall asleep, yeah, I don’t wanna miss a thing”.

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