As we await the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States it is easy to get depressed by the prospect. Former Labour spin doctor Charlie Whelan says that he is going to take his dog for a walk in the Highlands and pray for the world. My friend Alan Cochrane in Edinburgh says he is going to hide in his shed, or go to the pub. I’ll be watching the coverage from Washington from behind a sofa while mainlining gin and tonic in a bid to forget.
There are people who think this fear is all ridiculous. Trump will be fine and it’s just a lot of liberal whining about nothing. I try but struggle to see it that way. Obviously I hope the doomsayers are wrong (who wants to be blown up?) and it would be tremendous if he surprises us all by transforming in office from a vulgar, bullying, narcissistic, ignoramus into a great President. We live in, er, hope.
In the meantime, here is a list of 50 pretty much incontestably great things about the States to remind us there is more to the place than Donald Trump.
1.Theodore Roosevelt and the anti-monopoly trust-busting movement
2. Miles Davis
3. Good Californian chardonnay
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4. Aretha Franklin
5. The electoral college. Okay, maybe not
6. Sarah Vaughan
7. Camille Paglia
8. Chuck Berry
9. Muddy Waters
11. New York City
12. American manners, outside New York.
13. Wilson Pickett
14. The Beach Boys
15. Ike and Tina Turner
16. Harry Truman’s presidency
17. James Thurber
18. The 101st Airborne
19. The internet, or some of it
20. Maria Schneider’s last album, as well as her work with David Bowie
21. Prince’s Sign O’ the Times, or Prince until 1987
22. The dignity and brains of James Baker
23. Sam Cooke
24. Marilyn Monroe
25. Katharine Hepburn
26. Annie Hall
27. Broadway Danny Rose, Woody Allen’s mob caper masterpiece
28. Sonny Rollins.
29. The Red House Painters
30. Lloyd Cole. Okay, the best songwriter of his generation is from England, but he lives in the US and is virtually American now.
31. Ronald Reagan’s hair
32. Lynyrd Skynyrd
33. Rick Hall and his FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama
34. Robert Johnson
35. Donna Tartt (until the Goldfinch)
36. James Stewart
37. Marvin Gaye
38. Daniel Yergin’s classic book – The Prize – on the history of the oil industry
39. The Simpsons until the later series
40. The films of Elvis Presley. Of course not, I mean his records until he went into the army and then in his late 60s and early 70s peak
41. The dignified little gift shop at the White House, soon to be rebranded as a Trump Enterprise outlet probably
42. The Harvard Club of NYC
43. America’s best universities
44. Bruce Springsteen, as long as he keeps his set to under two hours and doesn’t do any Pete Seeger banjo-laden folk nonsense
45. Ella Fitzgerald
46. Cole Porter
47. Stephen Sondheim
49. The mid-term Congressional elections, now less than two years away…
50. The impeachment process
Oh, and I forgot Louis Armstrong, Make him 51.