Columnist George Will departed the Republican Party due to the rise of Trump, but his sharp wit remains intact along with a keen dislike for bullshit and a sense of history.
That’s why Will’s opinion column entitled “A most dreadful inaugural address” in the Washington Post is going viral:
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor, had promised that the speech would be “elegant.” This is not the adjective that came to mind as he described “American carnage.” That was a phrase the likes of which has never hitherto been spoken at an inauguration.
Oblivious to the moment and the setting, the always remarkable Trump proved that something dystopian can be strangely exhilarating: In what should have been a civic liturgy serving national unity and confidence, he vindicated his severest critics by serving up reheated campaign rhetoric about “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape” and an education system producing students “deprived of all knowledge.” Yes, all.
He’s absolutely right, America’s presidents have never given such a speech describing the vast nation of America, with the world’s hardest working people, largest economy and one of the most technologically advanced societies on the planet as a nightmarish wasteland.
Any country has places that are pristine and places that are run down. But on the whole, today, our country has strong safety net programs like Social Security which cares for widowed children and the elderly. America has Obamacare to provide an individual insurance market for self-employed business people and guarantee that nobody will be denied healthcare because they’ve been sick in the past.
America isn’t perfect, but with our Constitution and strong legal system to enforce laws, we’ve become a beacon of freedom even as we’ve proven to be human and flawed people. Will’s column finished with a historic flourish about the fallibility of people, but also the reliance of government upon The People as the ultimate check on the power of those who govern:
“A dependence on the people,” James Madison wrote, “is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” He meant the checks and balances of our constitutional architecture. They are necessary because, as Madison anticipated and as the nation was reminded on Friday, “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”
Will’s conclusion is high-minded call to action to The People, for it is we who must vigorously oversee the new Republican regime, to expose their deeds rapidly and publicly until checks and balances in our system – likely the justice system – remove this serial sexual predator from office.
George Will’s shredding of the 45th President’s inaugural speech qualifies as both an accurate first draft of history, and a sharp follow-up by one of the first mainstream writers to lucidly express the danger of Russian entanglements we might find in Trump’s taxes, while we lament the installation of man who took the oath of office with his inner circle under a major espionage investigation for ties to Vladimir Putin.
If you missed the speech, just watch Trump plagiarize the super-villain Bane and you’ll understand why Will called it dystopian and slammed the new President as the Gatsby of our time:
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 20, 2017
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition