Lazy Saturday Reads: Yes, I’m BitterPosted: January 21, 2017
Yesterday was dark day for the USA. I didn’t see the inauguration ceremony, but I heard part of tRump’s speech on NPR while I was out in the car. To say I was repulsed by it would be an understatement. tRump painted a picture of America as a hellhole with no redeeming qualities except for the bigoted white people who managed to elect him with a minority of the popular vote. It was a stunning insult to the former presidents in the audience and to the majority of the American people.
Here’s a transcript of the brief, angry address annotated by Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. This is the part I heard before I switched off my car radio in disgust:
At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
American carnage? I get the feeling that in a couple of weeks, tRump will be claiming credit for the growing economy that President Obama left him with. And then there was this:
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.
Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.
The slogan “America First” has very ugly historical connotations, and tRump know it, because he has been called out on it repeatedly. Brian Bennett at the LA Times: ‘America First,’ a phrase with a loaded anti-Semitic and isolationist history.
At the center of his foreign policy vision, Donald Trump has put “America First,” a phrase with an anti-Semitic and isolationist history going back to the years before the U.S. entry into World War II.
Trump started using the slogan in the later months of his campaign, and despite requests from the Anti-Defamation League that he drop it, he stuck with it.
“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land,” Trump said on the Capitol steps. “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First. America First.”
Here’s the historical context:
Those same words galvanized a mass populist movement against U.S. entry into the war in Europe, even as the German army rolled through France and Belgium in the spring of 1940.
A broad-based coalition of politicians and business leaders on the right and left came together as the America First Committee to oppose President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s support for France and Great Britain. The movement grew to more than 800,000 members.
While the America First Committee attracted a wide array of support, the movement was marred by anti-Semitic and pro-fascist rhetoric. Its highest profile spokesman, Charles Lindbergh, blamed American Jews for pushing the country into war.
“The British and the Jewish races,” he said at a rally in September 1941, “for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.”
The “greatest danger” Jews posed to the U.S. “lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government,” Lindbergh said.
This certainly was not a unifying message from our new and illegitimate POTUS.
Joe Conason at the National Memo: Trump’s Inaugural: A Hostile Transfer Of Power.
Everyone who wondered what Steve Bannon has been doing in Trump Tower now knows the answer: He was drafting the new president’s vengeful and cliché-laden inaugural address, which is certainly the least impressive speech of its kind in memory and likely one of the worst in history.
With its repeated harping on “America First” and the thieving perfidy of Washington, condemning both parties in government, this speech plainly reiterated the same messages formulated by the former Breitbart.com chairman during last year’s campaign. It sounded as if Trump were still on the stump, stirring up his fans, rather than seeking to unify the country and take on the profound responsibilities of the nation’s highest office.But who can blame Bannon and Trump for returning to their battle-tested themes? Gazing out over the National Mall toward the Washington Monument, where a crowd less than a fourth the size of Obama’s 2009 audience stood, and pondering their dismal approval ratings, they had to yearn for the wild enthusiasm of rallies past. What better way to revive the base than to conjure again that dark vision of an America brought low by crime, drugs, immigration, joblessness — and elitist conspiracies at the center of government?
Of course, there is a good reason why a new president — especially one who failed to win the popular vote in an extraordinarily rancorous election — should try to strike a generous and welcoming note on Inauguration Day. The task of governing that the chief executive faces is vast, complex, and daunting, as Trump is now learning, and demands at least a gesture toward national unity. An inaugural speech crafted to encourage such harmony is the mood music of our “peaceful transfer of power.” And by the time a president takes office, the country is usually weary of partisan bitching and expects the victor to display a measure of grace.
tRump isn’t capable of displaying grace. He only cares about himself and the “glorious victory” he imagines he has won. Even at the inaugural balls last night, tRump was still bragging about how he won the primaries and the general election in a “landslide.” Ironically, even winning the presidency and becoming the most powerful man on earth will never satisfy the black hole of inadequacy inside this pathetic, narcissistic man.
A couple more reviews:
Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post: Donald Trump’s inauguration was a Gothic nightmare.
George Will at The Washington Post: A most dreadful inaugural address.
David Sanger at The New York Times: With Echoes of the ’30s, Trump Resurrects a Hard-Line Vision of ‘America First.’
So today it’s the “women’s march,” and there are a lot more people participating in it than the sad crowd for the inauguration. Plus there are women’s rallies in all fifty states and many foreign countries. I guess I should be thrilled, but after learning that the organizers had decided to leave Hillary Clinton off the list of women on their “This is Why We March” announcement, I’m a bit unenthusiastic. I doubt if this will make much difference if the focus is on dismissing Hillary’s achievements and fantasizing that Bernie would have won. I’m also having difficulty with Michael Moore hogging the spotlight on a day that was supposed to be about women’s rights. Time Magazine:
When the Women’s March, which will take place on Saturday, released its official platform earlier this week,the group included a section dedicated to women who inspired organizers but didn’t mention Clinton’s name. The list included activists like Grace Lee Boggs, Gloria Steinem, Winona LaDuke, Malala Yousafzai and Edith Windsor. But Clinton, the first woman to be the a presidential nominee of a major political party, was missing. The omission is especially notable because the March borrows one of its slogans — “Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights” — from Clinton’s famous 1995 speech on women’s rights in Beijing. Clinton has given no indication that she plans to attend the event.
Sonya Clay, who lives in D.C. and supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 election, started a petition to get Clinton’s name added onto the list, which now has over 5,000 signatures. In addition to Clay’s petition, Wise Women for Hillary sent a letter to the March’s organizers asking that they change their mind. Others agreed, tweeting to March organizers under the hashtag #AddHerName. Some women now say they may stay home if Clinton’s name isn’t added.
“A Women’s March without Hillary Clinton — that just makes no sense,” Clay told Motto in a phone interview. “Hillary Clinton has inspired people to participate in this March. Her service has been inspiring to people. And just the way that she’s handled the loss. She’s inspired people to keep fighting and fight back.”
Since Clay’s petition went live, the Las Vegas and Los Angeles contingents of the Women’s March tweeted that they would honor Clinton. The March also put out a statement on its official Facebook page, saying it was proud to include Clinton’s phrase words from her Beijing speech — but didn’t clarify whether it would add Clinton’s name to the honoree list.
To compound the insult, the organizers are using Hillary’s famous quote “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights,” as well as referring to themselves as “nasty women.”
So . . . I applaud the women who are marching in DC and around the country and the world, but I’m still not so enthusiastic this will lead to any meaningful changes. Sorry about that.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and I hope you enjoy your weekend.