Trump’s inaugural address was the most radical in recent memory, and every bit as dark as his acceptance speech in July. The pastors before and after him made a stream of pleas for peace and healing, even invoked the Civil War. Trump himself went to weirdly extreme lengths to paint a picture rich with detail—uncharacteristic of the plain-spoken Trump—of a desolate, lost, even suicidal America alienated from itself. He invoked tombstones. At his most pornographic, he reduced us to “this American carnage.”
But then he assured us everything will be “great.” Again. It was basically his campaign speech in a new city.
In this speech, Trump used 27 words that had never been used before in an inaugural address. These words say a lot about Trump—not just how he sees us, but what he wants us to believe our country looks like. These anomalies reaffirm what an anomaly he is for this office. Here’s the full list, provided by the Washington Post, which is phony and dishonest.
Some leap out, such as “carnage” and “tombstones.” But the worst ones, the ones that say the most, are the seemingly innocuous words. “Sad.” “Trapped.” “Stolen” and “stealing.”
Think about that: For over two centuries no president had used the word “sad” in an inaugural address. That is more symbolic and historic than “carnage” — that’s obviously a word Trump considered carefully, one he used exactly because it would be different, new, provocative. But “sad.” He didn’t give it a second thought. He tweets it constantly, one of his favorite insults. On its own, it’s not nearly as charged as “tombstones” or “disrepair.”
But now we can also see something we never would have seen before. No other president used the word “sad.” Who would have thought to even look that up? We never would have known that, of the dozens of presidents who have taken care to offer a certain, precise vision of the country, in a miraculous display of some kind of inherited collective unconscious not a single one of them used the word “sad.” William Henry Harrison spoke for nearly two hours at his inauguration, which literally killed him. He spoke more than 8,000 words while giving his vision of America, and not one of them was “sad.”
Not once. What a tremendous and moving tradition of respect, optimism, and leadership the inaugural address has been.
I’d also like to point out that, somehow, we’ve fought the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, the Gulf War, the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the War on Terror all without hearing “carnage,” “tombstones,” or “bleed” from a President about to take office.
Here are some of these words in their proper context.
Sad: “subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.” Sad? This isn’t even true. Our military is many times stronger than any other in the world. I know soldiers who, proud of their military and their country, take extreme offense to this cynical stuff.
Also, in that sentence are two other new vocab words: “Subsidized” and “depletion.” Among those militaries we subsidize at our own in expense is Israel. And Barack Hussein Obama, whom Trump criticizes as soft on Israel, gave Israel defenses more than any other president in history—nearly $38 billion of aid.
Stolen: “The crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.” There is clearly crime in America. Violent crime. But this is fearmongering at its worst: an America killing itself, in an inaugural address. And I’ll let you figure out on your own the type of people he’s referring to here. This sentence is also punched-up with another word making its inaugural debut: “unrealized.”
Trapped: “Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities.” Poverty is an enormous problem facing the country. It belongs in the address. We need to face it. But poverty isn’t just an inner city problem. And it’s not just mothers and children. And do you think Trump is saying this animalistic, desperate word directly to black women and kids? Trapped? No. This is how he sees the world. This is how most Trump supporters really do see the problem. Trump claims he’s making an economic appeal to the white working class, and they claim the same. It’s not about race! Then how come this appeal is aimed straight at an “urban” cliche?
Urban; sprawl; wind-swept: “And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they will their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.”
Both descriptors are brand new. Total Trump. And which place sounds better to you? And note the binary split: Black and white. Note the negative comes first, the second one—the end; the one with more weight—is positive. Come on.
Rusted; tombstones; landscape: “Rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.” Our (your) country is a cemetery. Trump probably said this one to Melania about a hundred times. Then we she tired of it, the mirror. The statesman-poet. Or is it maybe poet-statesman?
Infrastructure; disrepair; decay: “America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.” Again, no, it hasn’t. We need to do a lot of work. Some spots are pretty dangerous. But the whole nation’s infrastructure isn’t like this. This slippery slope of fear is dangerous in its subtlety.
Stealing: “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.” Stealing our companies, such as Trump’s own, who choose to leave America because of incentives elsewhere. And for the millionth time, the unemployment rate is under 5%.
Ripped: “The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.” I don’t even know what this means, but he wants white people to think things have been stolen from them with a great, sudden violence — not the slow, erosive process that it’s been, the same slowness which also masked the urgency of this very plight.
Islamic: “We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones—and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.” Trump has made it a point to say this word. The implications here frighten many Americans. I mean, “eradicate completely from the face of the earth?” How can you eradicate an idea? Oh, wait…. Right…
Also note that he slipped “form new alliances” in there, then drowned it out by shouting the radical Islam stuff. He probably wanted to use another word I imagine hasn’t been used before: Russia.
So this what our President chose to point out to us about America. These are the images of our country he wants us to see as he takes power.About thirty minutes after his speech, it seemed to come true. Police and anti-Trump protesters clashed on K Street. Tear gas. A fire. 100 arrested. American carnage.
Maybe he’s right. Or maybe he needs to prove himself right.