Critic's Notebook: On Inauguration Day, Donald Trump Does Things His Way

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Donald and Melania Trump

The 45th president gets right to work — and so do the protestors — as he assumes office.

As of this writing, Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than one day, and everyone can surely agree that things are going just swimmingly.

Even as he was pledging to unify the country in his inauguration address, hundreds of protestors — or as Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly described them, “anti-American anarchists and far-left fanatics” — were being arrested in Washington. But that was only the tip of the iceberg for the beleaguered U.S. capital, which is expecting several hundred thousand people to participate in Saturday’s Women’s March. There also will be demonstrations not only in cities all over the nation, but in dozens of countries around the globe. Trump may actually become the first U.S. president to unite the world.

In stark contrast to his blustery demeanor just minutes earlier, Trump was in full charm mode during the subsequent Congressional Luncheon: making jokes about his legislative opponent, Charles Schumer; correctly admitting, “I don’t think anybody wants to hear me speaking anymore, right?”; proclaiming that his incoming Defense Secretary, Gen. James Mattis, was right out of “Central
Casting”; and, most surprisingly, paying generous tribute to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Asking the attendees at the packed event to stand up, Trump lauded the former president and his wife, oozing warmth while saying, “I have a lot of respect for those two people.” It was a far cry from his debate performance in which he told Hillary, “You should be in jail!” and made you wonder if his supporters suffer from some bizarre form of amnesia in which they literally forget what he says from day to day.

The new president got straight to work, indefinitely suspending a cut to the FHA mortgage insurance premium that would have saved homeowners an average of $500 a year — so much for his promise to work for “the people.” He also signed an executive order to “ease the burden of Obamacare,” which would be more alarming if anyone actually knew what the hell it meant. But hey, it sure sounds good.

Mere hours into his presidency, Trump already was in the crosshairs of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The non-partisan ethics watchdog organization has filed a complaint asserting that, immediately upon assuming office, he violated the lease for his Trump International Hotel in Washington that specifically prohibits elected government officials from profiting by it. It was an early indication that Trump’s administration is less likely to “drain the swamp” than make it even murkier.

But all of that paled in comparison to the glamor of his inaugural balls, which featured talent on the order of Tony Orlando; Michael Flatley and the cast of Lord of the Dance; Pelican 212, a creepy, all-moppet band; and The Rockettes, several of whom were apparently forced to perform at gunpoint. (I’ve been to bar-mitzvahs that had starrier entertainment.)

Arriving very late to the festivities — it takes time to give his hair that perfect cotton-candy sheen — Donald and Melania Trump entered to the strains of “Hail to the Chief,” which will never sound the same again. After proclaiming, “Well, we did it!” and generously giving God credit for stopping the rain during his inauguration, Trump and his trophy wife — I mean, first lady — danced their first dance to, what else, “My Way.” To be fair, it was a genuinely touching moment. Trump truly seemed like a man in love … with himself.