Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trump Presidency Off to Ominous, Unsettling Start

Despite protests, disappointment and rage — not to mention contrasting popular vote results — the traditional transfer of power concluded last Friday when Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president. But, judging by Trump’s cabinet picks and administration selections, his unsettling inaugural speech and the first few days, the next four years, for those infuriated by anything the superlative-spouting, fact-fudging, self-serving braggart says and does, are gonna be a rough ride.      

Out with grace and dignity,
in with disgrace and audacity.
Donald Trump’s bleak inaugural speech was devoid of humility, with only passing references to unity and bipartisanship, or any hint of inspiration that would transform the ongoing, stagnant divisiveness. On the other hand, it condemned almost every aspect of life in America, focusing on overstated crime, carnage and economic despair, while overlooking the achievements of the last eight years. In other words, it was just an adjunct to the myriad campaign speeches peddling Trump’s myopic vision to “make America great again.”
An assortment of alternate facts, the current term fashioned by the Trump camp for the never-ending series of fabrications that materialize on a regular basis, actually commenced long before it announced “a massive landslide victory” for President-elect Trump. It’s merely a carry-over instigated during fifteen months of campaigning up to the election — with a host of unsupported claims and a blatant disregard for truth when it doesn’t suit the Trump agenda or puts it in a negative light.
Perhaps the birth of alternate facts began with Trump’s bogus birther movement that prompted more ludicrous theories questioning Obama’s citizenship. That alternate fact surfaced during a 2011 interview, after Trump hinted at a possible run for president and then said he was skeptical of President Barack Obama's citizenship.
Most of all, the media has to maintain resistant responsibility, thorough vetting and avoid rashly reacting to purported reports with knee-jerk headlines labeled breaking news. That “landslide” was less than a 57 percent margin in the Electoral College and nearly a three million-vote deficit in the popular vote.
In comparison to elections in recent years, Barack Obama won with wider Electoral College margins — 61 percent in 2008 and 62 percent in 2012. Trump’s “landslide” was narrower than all but two of the last 10 presidential elections — George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.     
For many, especially those who protested nationwide last Saturday, two of the most cringe-worthy words in the English language for the next four years will surely be “President Trump.”
Whether or not one accepts him as “your” president, he IS the president, unless you plan on renouncing your citizenship, despite the fact that he is by far the most unfit, unqualified, undisciplined man to ever hold the nation’s highest office.
Despite campaign promises for “a clean sweep” and transformation from traditional politics, Trump’s transition team and cabinet choices don’t look that much different from previous administrations. They’re packed with industry insiders, lobbyists and the usual special interests that the president’s supporters rallied against throughout his campaign. But so far, it’s the same old wine in brand new bottle. As is typical in two-party politics, which Bernie Sanders pointed out during his dynamic presidential run, the more things change, the more they stay the same,  
There’s been a debate about the numbers who participated in Saturday’s marches. Regardless of the number of protesters, not every Clinton supporter actively took part, nor did those who did not bother to cast a ballot on November 8th. Nevertheless, the scale of the protests was more widespread, diversified and unlike anything since the anti-war demonstrations 40 years ago.
Just weeks before the election, several Republican leaders were quite vocal about their opposition to their party’s candidate. But, as is customary in two-party politics, GOP loyalists ultimately decided it was in their better interests though not necessarily best for the nation to win the election, despite backing a candidate who persistently exhibits never-ending negative qualities and a dubious character.
Last weekend, some Republicans rebuked protesters and told them to get over it and accept the results of the election, totally unlike how they reacted after Obama won in 2008 and 2012. There are also some who think it would be best for the country, if the losers would stop whining and give Trump respect and a chance. Republicans and Conservatives obviously have short memories because eight years ago they vowed to and actually did oppose Barack Obama every day he was in office. There were also some who disrespected the first African-American president with repeated racial slurs without a word of reprimand from Republicans.
Barack Obama ended his presidency with a comfortable 57 percent approval rating, demonstrating that despite constant resistance and partisanship, his tenure was a success. Opponents never gave a man with unquestionable character a chance, so why should a man with obvious antisocial tendencies, bursts of a whining juvenile, thin-skinned behavior and a lack of insensitivity deserve one?
In the first national poll, Trump’s approval rating was a dismal 45 percent, the lowest such rating since Dwight D. Eisenhower took office in 1953. Perhaps some Trump supporters are already having second thoughts and an attack of buyers’ remorse.
Harry S. Truman kept a sign on his White House desk that read, “The buck stops here.” After only a few days in office, it might be suitable for Donald J. Trump to have a sign that reads, “The bullshit starts here.”
One of the highlights of JFK’s inaugural address included this iconic sentence: “It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
In contrast, the essence of a speech by a man who is an affront to the office of the presidency was peppered with anger and despair.
Hardly a gracious foundation for a man expected to have profound effects on domestic and international policies for the next four years.