If presidential inaugurations are all about symbolism, what to make of this one?
There was no grace present as Trump slunk off early in the morning, an embittered use of Air Force One while he still controlled it. No reports of Downton Abbey-like farewells with the White House staff. No first lady tea ceremony. Hell, it’s not like the Bidens haven’t seen the place before. The Trumps left the White House the way most people leave a hotel: might as well get an early start on it.
If a city could cry, it’d be D.C. Washington on Wednesday certainly did not look like the capital of the World’s Greatest Democracy, or even a mediocre one. For those who have fetishized Nuremburg imagery over the last four years, the Mall covered in flags ought to ring a bell. As might the 26,000 troops who lined the closed streets, quartered in the Capitol itself, more boots on the ground than are currently in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria combined. The U.S. military failed to establish democracy after two decades of nation building over there. Perhaps they’ll have better luck over here.
But even the Guardsmen sent a mixed signal—somebody was worried enough about their loyalty to have the FBI vet the lot, and send 12 home for whatever “ties to right-wing groups” actually means. Actually they made “inappropriate comments or sent inappropriate texts,” thoughtcrimes once protected by the 1A.