There’s still a part of me that can’t believe Donald Trump is actually President of the United States. The guy is basically a Saturday morning cartoon villain, and not even one of the wisecracking ones. Actually, I was thinking about how media geared toward children tend to make the villains really obvious, and they often revel in their own badness. When someone does terrible deeds but tries to act like they’re in the right, that’s considerably scarier, and also much more common in real life. Trump is kind of interesting and confusing in this respect, as he tends to switch between the “I love being evil” and “I’m just doing what I think is right” sort of rhetoric without much rhyme or reason. He’s a compulsive liar, but that’s almost too mild of a term. We’re used to politicians lying. We’re perhaps not so used to politicians who lie when there isn’t any particular point to it, who seem to have a total aversion to any amount of truth, and who are totally inconsistent essentially from one sentence to the next.
I couldn’t watch the inauguration because I was at work, but even if I’d been at home I wouldn’t have done so. Trump has such an obsession with ratings that to hate-watch it would have been giving him the attention he craves. Or is that only true if you have a Nielsen box? I’m not sure how that works now. Regardless, there were a lot of interesting and sometimes amusing fact checks and rebuttals to his inauguration speech on Twitter, and I ended up reading the transcript of it from CNN. One point that was made numerous times was how similar part of it was to Bane’s speech in The Dark Knight Rises.
Aside from that, it’s bizarre how often the speech shifts gears. He claims to represent the American people, but then uses language that suggests this actually only refers to a small number of Americans. He talks about the government being under the control of the people when “the people” in general didn’t really vote for him, as he lost the popular vote and voter turnout was low anyway. His talk of “inner cities” and “gangs” reeks of racism. Not that white people don’t live in cities and join gangs, but it’s the sort of coded language employed by his ilk. He uses the term “America First,” which was what antisemitic people who opposed the nation’s entry into World War II called themselves.
And even if the term weren’t so historically charged, it just sounds disturbing to insist that anyone has to be first. Another word he loves is “winning,” which implies coming out ahead of someone else, not to mention that Charlie Sheen already pretty much robbed the word of any possible dignity it might have once had. Trump says he wants to get people off of welfare, because apparently people who need public assistance don’t count as Americans. He says he wants to protect the interests of “American workers and American families” when he’s been making an effort to gut health care and public education. And he criticizes outsourcing when it’s something his companies do. Are we supposed to forget that the guy making this speech is doing his best to accomplish the exact opposite of what he says? Maybe so, as I think Americans tend to have really bad memories. And he admits he’s “looking only to the future,” so I suppose we should forget his past. And if we want to get with him, we should make it fast, not that anyone does.
A few more thoughts I had on the speech:
- The moment “belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.” He must have known a lot of people weren’t going to watch.
- Are tombstones really scattered all that often? In my experience, they tend to cluster in specific areas. Also, tombstones, carnage, and ravaging all in the same speech? Did a third-rate horror writer come up with this? Except “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation” kind of sounds more like a folk song or beat poetry.
- The education system is “flush with cash,” while the military has been depleted. Never mind that the military still gets a hell of a lot more funding than education.
- A guy accused of statutory rape who hit on his own daughter probably shouldn’t use the phrase “young and beautiful students.” And don’t ugly kids deserve an education too?
- Other countries are “stealing our companies”? So, like, a bunch of Chinese helicopters lifted the Apple factory and took it to their country? I think the companies had a choice in the matter.
- “We will bring back our dreams.” Good, I’m tired of baku always eating them.
- He’ll fight for you with every breath in his body. The gag is that his respiration is anaerobic. I’m not totally sure his blood is red, either.
- Trump will completely eradicate radical Islamic terrorism. Wow, even the lone wolves?
- “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” I’m not even sure how to start pointing out how absurd that is. Patriotism doesn’t HAVE to lead to prejudice, but it often does.
- We are protected by God, which as an atheist doesn’t exactly fill me with hope. But even if there is a God, why would he favor one nation over another? And you’ll notice he didn’t do anything to protect us from Trump himself.
- We all bleed the same red blood of patriots, and I’m sure we’re going to be doing a whole lot of bleeding during the upcoming four to eight years. The over-the-top horror writer is back. And to go along with the previous antisemitic rhetoric: If you prick us, do we not bleed?
- Finally, I’ve been asking this for a while, but just when WAS America great?