I found a website called the American Presidency Project that is an amazing collection of documents and speeches produced by American presidents and presidential candidates. I reviewed a few inaugural addresses and found some memorable lines by Lincoln (2nd inaugural address, not the 1st), John F. Kennedy (whose speech I have often used in class), and by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1st inaugural address. The shortest inaugural speech ever given was by George Washington in his 2nd address. I wish Donald Trump would simply repeat the same 135 words Washington spoke and say nothing more. But, that won’t happen.
I also looked at Donald Trump’s June 2015 speech where he announced his candidacy. It turned out to be a template for what he said in subsequent speeches and debates. Amazing. Now Trump’s speech writers are polishing his remarks for Friday’s address worrying about, I suspect, whether Trump will end up reading the prepared speech or improvising.
Normally, since an inaugural address follows elections which have divided the country to some degree, the speech attempts to heal the wounds from the election and encourage people to join together for the good of the country. I suspect that Trump’s head speech writer, Stephen Miller, will be trying to bring the country together and to set an agenda that appeals to Trump’s supporters while not offending Trump’s detractors. But, Donald Trump loves to gloat, likes to say outrageous things, and may not be able to resist attacking his opponents. The elephant outside the room at the Capitol Building–the fact that there will be more people marching to oppose him than are coming to celebrate his victory–will be difficult for Trump to ignore and may be impossible for him to wait to speak about until he opens his Twitter account. Trump will also want as many applause lines as possible. Miller has his work cut out for him. How will the speech end up? Who knows? I’m willing to take a stab at it. Here is Trump’s First and Hopefully Only Inaugural Address:
We are gathered here today for one reason: to Make America Great Again. It an honor to be the President of the United States, one of the few presidents elected by a landslide. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken loudly. They said they tired of politics as usual. They said they are tired of politicians who are all talk. They said the swamp must be drained, our health as a nation must be restored, the wall must be built, and jobs must be brought back to our country. I have listened.
With strong leadership, we will make America first: first today, first tomorrow, and first forever. I guarantee I will get the job done. I have signed over my businesses to my sons. So, I can get on with the job for which I was elected, without any interference from the Russians. Only sore losers think otherwise. But, I won’t bring that up, for today is about all the great things I will do.
Today, I am signing bills (you can see them all over there) that will repeal President Obama’s executive orders as I promised. Politicians do not keep their promises, but I will. The decline of the United States stops today. We will be strong and proud once again. No one will push me or America around again. Not even the press.
The terrible things that have happened to our country will stop. I will change how we do business in the Capitol, throughout the world, and in your neighborhood for decades to come. Schools will be places for learning, not sex and drugs. The people causing the problems in the inner cities will be locked up. Police will be allowed to enforce the law. Yes, it’s going to be beautiful, I can tell you. Companies, like Ford, will build plants in America, not Mexico or China. Other countries will respect us. Our Army will be powerful.
Congress needs to approve my nominees quickly, so we can eliminate the regulations that are stifling our creativity. I will save the taxpayers money and negotiate the best deals ever. I have assembled the most qualified cabinet in the history of the country. We will do great things. My Secretary of Defense will stop terrorists. They will be dead. Dead. Tom Price, in Human Services, will make sure everyone in the country has health insurance at a lower rate. Your rights will be protected. My attorney general will ensure everyone owns as many guns as they want. My new secretary of state will help develop a mutually beneficial friendship with Russia. I will lead a cabinet that will undo the damage done by years of ineffective, weak Democratic leaders. Things are in horrible shape. The worst ever. But, rest assured, I know how to fix these problems. America will be great again.
(At this point, Trump’s medication starts to wear off.)
As we leave today, I ask you not to think about what you can do for you country, but about what your country can do for Donald Trump. Putin and I will form the greatest monopoly ever. No one will dare mess with us. In four year’s time we will own just about everything on the planet. The world will thank us. Which way is Trump Tower?