"The President is committed to unifying our country..." Statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 21Jan2017. Well, if that was the case, the reviews are in and President Donald Trump's inaugural speech was about the darkest, most divisive, most ominous speech I've ever read from any American President. The campaign is over and it's time to speak of what we all have in common. This speech read like Father Coughlin from the 1930s, Joe McCarthy from the 1950s or an uncensored President Richard Nixon from the 1970s.
Were the policy visions of Presidents Ronald Reagan and the elder and younger George Bushs' much better? No, but at least the last three Republican presidents cloaked their views in sunnier, more optimistic and inclusive rhetoric than Trump did on Friday. How about the situation in America that Trump paints? Is it anywhere near as dire as he makes it sound? The good news is no, the situation is nowhere even close to being the dark and terrible dystopia that the president makes it sound like.
This was a lightly-coded speech. In Trump's inaugural address, "We," "Us" and "The People" obviously stood for conservatives and the Republican Party. "Politicians" and "Washington" clearly stood for liberals and the Democratic Party, with "inner city," obviously representing African-Americans, thrown in for good measure. All of the problems of the past half-century were laid at the feet of liberals/Democrats. Completely absent from the speech was any notion of income inequality or the 1% playing any role whatsoever in the economic distress that Trump pointed to.
Think Progress cites some basic facts on the issue. Unfortunately, it's not a partisan issue at all. Inequality has persistently grown through both Democratic and Republican administrations. What would be the effect of the Republican Party's great current priority, the repeal of the ACA/Obamacare? It would be to massively increase inequality.
As President Trump just signed an executive order that, in theory anyway, repeals the ACA in its entirety. This puts him very much on the side of increasing income inequality and of taking health care plans away from almost 30 million Americans. Is Trunp's experiment is Supply-Side Economics likely to work? Not if Kansas is any indication. Kansas has been trying since 2013 to make the theory work and the economy of Kansas is in worse shape than ever.
Trump declares that "radical Islamic terrorism" must be "eradicated, just off the face of the Earth..." Never mind that Daesh/ISIS is doing very poorly now and has lost a great deal of territory in the past few years. Trump is also perfectly content with leaving as many as 80 ambassador posts unfilled until he and Congress get around to replacing them. That means there will not be any proper turn-overs and no briefings for incoming ambassadors.
So what other actions has the new president carried out so far? Well, the LGBT page has been scrubbed from the White House website. So has any mention of climate change, which I guess means the whole problem has been solved or something. How about on the legal front? Well, they've asked for a delay in a voter ID case, presumably so they can defend a Texas voter ID law. How often does in-person voter fraud occur? Not much, authorities cite "incident rates between 0.00004 percent and 0.0009 percent." But voter fraud is a good bogeyman that justifies keeping minorities and young people (likely to vote Democrat, y'know) from voting.
How about in housing? What are the plans of that great new hire, Dr. Ben Carson, the fellow who was put in as head of Housing and Urban Development with zero relevant experience? The LA Times reports:
[A]n hour after Donald Trump assumed the presidency Friday, his administration indefinitely suspended a pending rate cut for mortgage insurance required for FHA-backed loans, which are popular with first-time home buyers and those with poor credit.So yeah, great things there. Canadians report that they were asked at the border about their political sympathies.
"The first thing he asked us point blank is, 'Are you anti- or pro-Trump?'" Decunha claims he was asked by a border guard who eventually denied him entry.
Nominee for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave a truly awful performance on January 18th. Now we learn that if she want to be an ethical Education Secretary, she needs to divest from 102 different assets within 90 days of being confirmed. One of those companies profits directly from collecting on student loans. That's a rather substantial conflict of interest.