Open Thread

The Open Thread for January 21, 2017

David Remnick: “Where is the slightest evidence of this magical transformation? Where are all the sober counselors, the newfound ethics? Where is the competence, the decency, and the humanity? The reality is that the Donald Trump of birtherism, of Mexican ‘rapists,’ of Muslim registries, of ‘grab them by the pussy,’ of bankruptcies and lawsuits and colossal conflicts of interest—this is the same Donald Trump who, with his hand on Lincoln’s Bible, is taking the oath of office, vowing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“The reason so many people are having fever dreams and waking up with a knot in the gut is not that they are political crybabies, not that a Republican defeated a Democrat. It’s not that an undifferentiated mass of ‘coastal élites’ is incapable of recognizing that globalization, automation, and deindustrialization have left millions of people in reduced and uncertain circumstances. It is not that they ‘don’t get it.’ It’s that they do.”

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Ed Kilgore: “[T]he tone for his address [was] an angry screed of a campaign speech. I’ve been watching and listening to inaugural addresses since John F. Kennedy’s, in 1960. I’ve never heard anything like this one in terms of its divisive content and complete lack of uplift. Even its call for the blessings of the Almighty was to a nationalist God Trump seemed to be charging with protecting the country — if and only if our military and police forces failed. And absent any admission of his own fallibility, his appeal to unity sounded more like a threat of repression than a call for mutual understanding and bipartisanship. […]”

“By the time Trump got to the climax of the address, a secular doxology of the national greatness he would achieve (wealthy! strong! safe!), the hope of so many people, especially those who fear him, that the 45th president would rise to the moment and make a graceful, civic-minded speech, had long been dashed. Trump can, of course, eventually transcend this moment. But it was an ominous beginning for a presidency that was so hard to envision as normal.”

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Jonathan Chait: “The presidency raises the stakes of Trump’s con game to a completely new level. In his inaugural address, Trump declared his fealty to the People, promising to unleash untold wealth to them that was being held by elites in Washington and by foreigners. ‘We will bring back our jobs,’ he said. ‘We will bring back our wealth.’ He promised to quash crime and ‘eradicate’ Islamic terrorism ‘from the face of the Earth.’ The grandiosity of these promises is necessary to get even the minority of the electorate that can tolerate Trump to overlook his overt grossness and corruption.”

“The methods of a skilled con artist have worked just barely well enough to deliver the presidency to Trump. But what happens when his grandiose promises fail to materialize? And when the aspects of his program that he never mentioned in his speech — tax cuts for the rich, stripping away health insurance from millions, massive graft — do take place? A con artist who always escaped his old victims and found new ones has reached the maximal limits of his strategy. What happens when the marks are demanding that the promises he made be redeemed, and there is nowhere for him to go, and he commands the powers of the state?”

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Walter Shapiro: “The flamethrower has been passed to a new generation, an older generation, bristling with resentments yet faithful to themes of the 2016 campaign.”

“Donald J. Trump’s Inaugural Address was one for the ages. For decades to come — no matter how his presidency is remembered — the bluntness of his words on a grey and rainy Friday afternoon will be recalled as a turning point, a fork in the winding road of American democracy.”

George Will: “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.”

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Washington Post: “Then, as rain began to fall, Trump gave an inaugural address that — while short in duration — made a major break with presidential precedent. Most presidents use this moment to acknowledge the opponent they defeated, to praise America’s promise and to call upon both parties to work together.”

“Trump, by contrast, made no mention of his Democratic opponent, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. He used his speech to make a wide-ranging condemnation of America’s current state — talking about ‘American carnage’ caused by urban crime, and saying that ‘wealth, strength and confidence had dissipated’ because of jobs lost overseas.”

“Trump also used his address to say that both major political parties had lost their way, serving the needs of an elite rather than the needs of the public.”

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David Frum: “For the 58th time, the system has worked, and power has smoothly transferred from one heir of George Washington to another. The truth is not so happy. With full advance notice, and despite the failure to gain a plurality of the nation’s vote, the United States will soon inaugurate someone who owes his office in some large part to a hostile foreign intelligence operation. Who is, above and beyond that, a person whose character that leaves him unqualified to hold the presidency, and threatens the country with an impending sequence of financial and espionage scandals—a constitutional crisis on two legs.”

“The real message of today is that the system has failed. The challenge of the morrow is to know what to do to save the remainder.”

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Josh Marshall: “‘America First’ has now be spoken in an inaugural address. This was quite similar to Trump’s convention speech: dark, defiant, filled with talk of “American carnage”, a landscape dotted with tombstones. This was vintage campaign Trump. […] This speech was about grievance and reclamation, reclaiming power, wealth from those who’ve stolen it. These themes can make sense and be salutary for countries which are weak, battered and poor. When they become the rallying cry for the strongest and wealthiest of countries, that is always dangerous. Our work is cut out for us.”

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1 comment on “The Open Thread for January 21, 2017

  1. Well, we can either get depressed of we can become energized for the coming battles that surely lie ahead. I’m ready to fight and I hope you are as well. This is going to get ugly fast and more than a few slack jaws will hang open and ask the question “Wha’ Happened?”. We’ve elected a despot who has no qualms about laying waste to American traditions and seems to have little respect for the constitution either. War is hell, and so is a Trump presidency.

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