Laura Dean worked as a speechwriter for President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2014. We asked her to annotate Donald Trump’s vague, dark inauguration speech.
Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.
First things first: have we ever seen this man’s birth certificate?
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.
Dear God, hopefully not that many.
Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.
The whole “drain the swamp” premise would be more compelling if he hadn’t filled his Cabinet with billionaires who have long lined their pockets based on the triumphs of corporate lobbyists. Taking advantage of tax law to maximize your profits doesn’t make you a bad person, it just disqualifies you from being among “the people” Mr. Trump is trying to address here.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.
Newsflash, Donald, this “small group” is all standing right behind you and is your ticket to getting anything passed through Congress. Cue the curt nod from Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
The notion that the winning of a few was taking precedence over the prosperity of the many was a constant refrain in Barack Obama’s speeches. The difference lies in who we see as winning.
That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.
January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
I learned recently that the emperors of Rome recognized three sources of power: the people, the senate, and the military. They rarely carried the favor of all three at once and catered their oratory to those most likely to stand with them. Trump seems, in that vein, to be putting all his eggs in the “people” basket, knowing that he has shaky support from a wary Republican Congress.
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.
Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.
This is starting to feel like the point at which populism turns into demagoguery, the point at which emphasis turns into hyperbole.
At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” In the first three minutes of his presidency, Donald Trump has already eviscerated that notion.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash,
Raise your hand if that sounds like your local public school...
but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge;
He’s really setting himself up well here to bring back all the knowledge. So we can look forward to that.
and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
I suggest imagining this paragraph as read by late, great Don LaFontaine, America’s most prolific movie trailer voice-over actor.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
American Carnage: The next great slasher thriller. Also, conveniently, the exact line Democratic operatives will use against him in the 2020 election when his abject lack of thoughtful policies to correct these ills dooms his reelection.
We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams. And their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.
Who is they? And which is our? He’s undermining his definition of unity, even as he tries to explain it.
For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.
Did he take a bet that he couldn’t troll America with the worst refrains from his Twitter feed?
And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.
He might be hard pressed to name another nation we’ve actually made rich. In fact, we pretty much made the rest of the world poor by instigating a global economic meltdown from which we (nearly) alone have managed an even halfway decent recovery. Oh, and who was it who brought us back from the brink of economic chaos anyway? That’s right. Obama.
One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.
But that is the past. And now, we are looking only to the future.
Donald Trump: extremely excellent—the best—at not holding grudges. He just lets them slip through his tiny little hands.
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.
Donald Trump is not the first person to use that phrase. Or even the hundredth. But probably he wasn’t hoping that the one usage in history that pops up first on Google is from an isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.
To be fair, it’s American companies deciding to take those jobs and factories overseas.
Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.
First of all, this sentence doesn’t make sense. And second of all, it’s so far from the Republican platform that Paul Ryan’s eyes might have popped out of his head at this point.
America will start winning again, winning like never before.
They’re saying Steve Bannon wrote this speech. I believe it. Then again, I was there when Barack Obama decided in 2011 that we were definitely going to “win the future.”
We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.
Infrastructure agenda? Jobs program? Sounds like we’re rolling out the New New Deal.
We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.
Thanks, @realRonaldReagan, for that shining city on the hill tip.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.
Conservatives have been waiting for this moment. President Obama wanted to avoid the insinuation that we were in conflict with an entire religion. President Trump has no such qualms.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
At first listen, this line might gain your nod of agreement. Upon further consideration of literally any moment in American history, it becomes clear that this is a faulty association. And in fact it frequently works the other way. All too often, cowards use the claim of patriotism to paper over their bigotry.
The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
Omg, like, totally.
There should be no fear.
Unless you care about climate change. Or your health insurance. Or avoiding nuclear war. Because I’m scared about literally everything I hold to be fundamental to the freedoms and protections promised by our democracy.
We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.
Paul Ryan must have lent DJT his dog-eared Ayn Rand and hoped a little something like this made it in.
We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it.
The Donald does not complain. He simply points out what everybody already knows: SNL is unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny, and the Baldwin impersonation just can’t get any worse. Sad!
The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.
This would be newsworthy if he really meant it.
Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
This is a consistent theme in presidential oratory. In 2012, Barack Obama said, “There is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful…” I welcome this moment of uncharacteristic optimism from Trump.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space,
Newt Gingrich is already angling for Secretary of Space Mysteries.
to free the earth from the miseries of disease,
The cures to which no one will be able to afford once they lose their health insurance.
and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
All of which Rick Perry is trying to figure out whether or not he’s in charge of.
A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions.
I don’t know about you, but my national pride does not stir itself with whatever hate-spew Steve Bannon is peddling.
It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.
This is a sorry-ass olive branch to millions of Americans who have felt consistently disparaged and excluded by countless remarks this man has made over the last 18 months.
We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag.
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.
This is hokey. And maybe came from 1986 animated classic An American Tail. But I can’t knock evoking the hopeful future of America’s children.
So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words. You will never be ignored again.
This line gets to the heart of why voters turned out for Donald Trump. It’s not eloquent, but there is truth to the sentiment. It just remains to be seen whether the man who prances around in a gold-plated tower is ready to live up to it.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
This is true and good-hearted. It’s a voice of genuine unity that will serve President Trump well. Hopefully it will prevail over his penchant to criticize and divide.
Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And yes, together we will make America great again.
Whereas Donald Trump appears to still be running for president in this inaugural address-cum-campaign speech, Barack Obama concluded his 2009 inaugural with a little more, ahem, artistry:
Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Donald Trump’s inaugural is unlikely to be remembered among the most eloquent ever delivered. However, artistry and oratory do not make the president. Ultimately, it is the content of the President’s character and the thoughtfulness of his decisions that will determine whether he will be a good steward of our nation’s future. If he lives up to the better moments of this speech—the glimmers of unity and hope for the future—then who knows, maybe we’ll actually make progress in the great and noble deed of keeping America great.