Trump inauguration speech: 'Angry', 'authentic', 'primal'
- 20 January 2017
- From the section US & Canada
Donald Trump campaigned on becoming a president unlike any Washington has ever seen. With his inauguration speech, he's already set the tone.
Earlier this week, Trump posted a photo of himself sitting at a desk at Mar-a-Largo, a permanent marker hovering over a notepad.
"Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday," he tweeted.
It's unclear whether the president-elect actually wrote the speech himself, but the content was pure Trump: the same populist message that resonated throughout the primaries and the campaign.
"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, DC, and giving it back to you, the people," he said at the beginning of his remarks.
For some on Twitter, it bore an eerie similarity to the Batman villain Bane's speech in The Dark Night Rises, so much so that someone posted a 10-second mash-up of the two.
But such snarky reactions, warned Fox News commentator Guy Benson, underestimate how popular his rhetoric is with Trump supporters.
"People panning the speech still don't seem to understand how resonant the 'I will never ignore you' theme has been, and still is," he wrote, referencing Trump's many callouts to those who feel left out of American progress.
Trump spoke of a country whose citizens had too long been ignored by the coastal elite: "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."
He painted a picture of a broken and damaged country, dotted with rusting-out factories "like tombstones", city streets plagued with "crime and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives," and the wealth of the middle class "ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world".
It was an unusually bleak speech for an inaugural address.
One democratic strategist called it "startlingly angry".
Conservatives were more mixed.
According to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, the speech was not intended to follow tradition: "Donald Trump's speech was not an inaugural address. It was a primal scream aimed at Washington, DC."
Author Hugh Hewitt called it "authentic, determined, almost grim". He wrote, "I expected more joy, but it cannot be said that POTUS @realDonaldTrump said anything he hasn't said before. He has a plan and it's going to roll out fast."
Others were sceptical of the breadth of those plans. Trump said the country was poised to "free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow", as well as "eradicate from the face of the Earth" radical Islamic terrorism.
Writer Ben Shapiro expressed doubt about Trump's plans to both take power away from DC, and use his position as President to steer trade and create jobs.
"These cannot both be true," he wrote.
Many also noted that it's easy to campaign as an outsider, railing about America's problems, but harder to lead, when one must find solutions.
"After three months in which Trump is president and it's still the same Washington, that speech is going to seem wildly imprudent," wrote Noah Rothman, assistant editor at Commentary Magazine.
Commentator Mary Katherine Hahn thinks voters aren't interested in sweeping rhetoric. "I am unabashedly ideological. The country is not. His message is populist & popular. His opponents dismiss that at their political peril."
Pollster Frank Luntz said President Trump seemed to pivot, if not in tone then at least in substance: "President Trump's inaugural speech was the best delivery I've ever seen from him."
A more well-known conservative kept mum on his opinion. When the Washington Post asked George W Bush what he thought of the speech, he merely replied, "Good to see you."
One high-profile Twitter user was an unabashed fan. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke tweeted multiple times in favour of Trump's speech.