Perhaps it was a mistake to expect anything better from Donald Trump in his inauguration speech. The man long ago proved himself to be a narcissistic opportunist lacking dignity, grace or a sense of occasion, so why would he suddenly morph into a presidential figure?
Even so, the embarrassing speech he gave at the Capitol after taking the oath was so graceless and unpresidential that it must surely rank as the worst ever such address. Philip Collins on the Times says he has read every inauguration speech and this was the worst. I believe him.
Put to one side Trump’s cheap theatrics, and the stupid waving about of his hands, and the orange makeup, and the stupid omnipresent overcoat, and all the other ghastly Goodfellas optics. In terms of pure content the speech was nasty, divisive, isolationist, economically incoherent and downright dangerous in its assumptions. It is embarrassing that a great country such as the US should be landed with this. America First, a campaign slogan with fascist origins, is now presidential decree, it seems.
This testiness about Trump is going to be a consistent theme, here on Reaction. In the months and years ahead we’ll also publish plenty of pieces from those who think there is a case for Trump, and for specific parts of his agenda. America is not Trump, and we’ll cover American politics and culture with renewed enthusiasm, and provide more coverage from the US soon. But it will take a lot to convince me that my instinct and considered judgment formed on trips to the US in the campaign is wrong. The guy is a menace. The guy is a muppet. The muppet now has the nuclear codes.
I hope that I am wrong about Trump and that he changes. On the evidence of today he won’t. He’s even worse than his critics feared.