Littwin: The Trump speech may have been dark and scary, but it will only get worse from here

Yes, Donald Trump’s inaugural speech was disturbing and dystopian and dark, served up with a large dose of populism and warmed over by a frightening dose of nationalism.

It was an inaugural speech, we keep hearing, like no other. And while that is true, it’s (very nearly) beside the point.

Trump promised everything — radical Islamic terrorism gone; American jobs and wealth back — and yet he said little to nothing about how he would accomplish any of this. He has secret plans which apparently won’t be revealed by simply resting his hand on the Bible.

Because the truth — the only true thing — in Trump’s speech is that it gives us no idea how he will govern. It gives us no comfort, either, but it shouldn’t. It wasn’t meant to. It was meant to set terms by an non-ideological president whose one ideology is that he comes out ahead in the end. Oh, and that he vanquishes his enemies, or maybe you missed the all-too-obvious multiple snubs of the Clintons.

He knows the short con, and he knows the long con. The campaign, for those keeping score, we can now remember as the short one.

As Trump said, there are many, many years ahead. And much of a nation — more than half of a nation — must wonder what we have done.

And so, America today, as seen by our new president: The establishment has been enriching itself while robbing you, the people, who are now in charge. (Trump has dumped the “I, alone, can fix it” wording as a little too, well, Mussolinian.) Washington politicians have cheated you, the people, who are now in charge. Porous borders have threatened you, the people, who are now in charge. And foreign aid. And foreign alliances. And trade deals. And everyone, it seems, but the billionaires with whom Trump has papered his cabinet and entrusted the future of you, the people. Populists all, presumably.

This is Trump’s America today, in his words:  “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 but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge. And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

And the prescription: “This American carnage stops right here and right now.”

Stopped by you, the people. And, I guess, Trump, your leader.

If you think he’s conflating the two —Trump and the people — you’re exactly right. And if Trump’s Carnage Speech, as it will doubtless be remembered, frightens you, the non-Trump people, it was meant to. He has set the baseline. And if you accept it — despite all the evidence to the contrary, which points to a nation, yes, of income and wealth inequality, of inequality of opportunity, of division, of blame, but not of the apocalypse — Trump will ask for the credit when it’s much the same a year from now, but with our new credit-claiming leader.

The speech didn’t soar, of course. Trump’s claim that he wrote it is, after the fact, perfectly believable, even if it is untrue. The speech was not meant to inspire. For a man who says he wants to make America great again, he evoked little greatness. He reminded us not of our founders, nor of Lincoln, of Roosevelts, of Kennedy. There is no history here from the man who doesn’t read books. There’s nothing to suggest what a great America looks like, except one sealed off from the world in which the Trumpian bywords are, again in his words, to “follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.” His take on history was to evoke, again and again, “America First” with its own sad origins.

Read Obama’s speech from eight years ago, when the country was, in fact, rocked by a profound recession, and see where we were then and where we are now. It is no small irony that Obama leaves office with a 60 percent approval rating, far above any such ratings since early in his presidency. It’s a statement presumably on the Obama years in total, but I suspect it’s more a statement of a lack of faith in Trump, who, in his speech, seemed unperturbed by that.

He didn’t reach out to those who voted against him. He didn’t acknowledge the person they voted for in greater numbers. He said instead that his movement — sorry, the people’s movement — was the greatest movement the world had ever seen. And now the world wonders, too.

We don’t know what happens next. Trump has, in many ways, nominated an extremely conservative cabinet. But we don’t know if we’ll see Paul Ryan conservatism or any kind of conservatism at all except Trumpism. The speech, as I said, gave no hint of that, but if you look at his website, you can already see the Obama years being dislodged before our eyes. In his speech, what Trump did say was that he’d bring back the jobs, bring back the wealth, bring back the borders, and everything else, he might as well have said, that crooked Hillary or Obama or the Bushes or the Clintons have stolen from the people.

The speech was scary. But I’m guessing that the Trump presidency will be far, far worse. It will be a time of great division, of course, but we’ve been divided for a while. The difference is that now we have for president a race-baiting demagogue who, as things go wrong (as they inevitably do) will govern as one, too. Someone must always be to blame, but can be Obama for only so long — and it can never be Trump.

As Trump said, “The time for empty talk is over. The hour of action begins.”

And so it does. So it does.

Photo credit: The National Guard, Creative Commons, Flickr 


  1. Anyone who believes a word that the Donald says is a complete fool and is going to be totally unprepared for the screwing they are in for. Those of us who recognize a shyster and a con man when we see one KNOW what’s coming.

    So all you righties who think this guy is your savior, how do you like the increase in mortgage insurance rates he signed within ONE HOUR of taking the office yesterday? That’s only going to cost those of you with homes about $500 a year. And just look for things to keep on getting GREATER, too.

    The fact is, those like Rump, who YOU voted for, think of you as nothing but a bottomless pocket just waiting to be picked. Look for even more of this to happen as the next few years go by. You’re gong to keep getting to pay more and more of what little you have to the ultra rich and big business. You people have voted to SCREW yourselves and everyone else because you didn’t like the idea of a woman in the presidency. And now you get to pay for it, and pay you will.

    It’s going to be a run for what little is in your pocket. Some of us TRIED to tell you this, and yet, you still refused to believe that a guy who is KNOWN for being a fraud and crook would treat YOU like that. He’s been in court over 4,000 times for being a blasted FRAUD, for NOT paying people who have worked for him, for NOT living up to his obligations. You think he’s going to be any different NOW?

    You people voted to put a CROOK in office, and I for one will accept NO whining from ANY of you when this gets real, and it’s already started. You people had better be out with signs declaring how this is what you WANTED. You were SO smart that you had to put an IDIOT in the office.

    You’ll be paying for it with your next house payment. And you had better be SMILING when you sign that check. This is what you voted FOR. Suck it up. You’re getting what you wanted.


  2. Mr. Littwin offers his political commentary without fear of contradiction because, well, he ignores any.

    Here’s what Mr. Littwin offered readers the day after Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States:

    “Something has happened, something dark, something frightening, and no one has any idea what comes next. Don’t trust anyone who tries to tell you he does.”

    That seems fairly straightforward: politics have changed and no one can predict what will happen in the future. Right? Well, not so fast. Here’s Mr. Littwin on January 17th:

    “This is the same (Tom Price, President Trump’s pick for Health secretary) who has been a leading anti-Obamacare voice and who actually has a plan — although one so conservative that it would never get through the Republican House, much less the filibuster-ready Senate — to replace Obamacare.”

    So how does Mr. Littwin know Price’s plan would fail given his dire warning not to trust anyone who tries to tell you what comes next? Well, maybe what he initially meant to say was this:

    “Something has happened, something dark, something frightening, and no one (but me) has any idea what comes next. Don’t trust anyone (but me) who tries to tell you he does.”

    Here’s how Mr. Littwin described FBI Director James Comey last July after he announced Mrs. Clinton would not be indicted because of her handling of private emails:

    “FBI Director James Comey, whose reputation as a truth-teller was forever sealed when he served as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, was the clear winner in the Hillary Clinton email story/scandal. In fact, he was pretty much the only winner.”

    And here’s how Mr. Littwin described Director Comey a mere four months later:

    “But then the emails came roaring back, and James Comey was caught somewhere between misfeasance and malfeasance.”

    From truth-teller to malfeasance is just four short months. You can’t make this stuff up!

    Of course, there is even a larger contradiction that Mr. Littwin has ignored. Here’s what he wrote one year ago:

    “But I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics. For one thing, it’s not that complicated.”

    And here’s what he wrote one month ago:

    “I still have no idea how or why Trump was elected.”

    So how does Mr. Littwin avoid explaining his own contradictions when he is so quick to point out contradictions in politicians like Rep. Coffman who first condemned and now supports President Trump? That’s easy: being a columnist means never having to say you’re sorry.

    Or maybe Mr. Littwin doesn’t read his own columns and if that’s the case he can hardly be blamed. It must be painful enough just writing it without having to read it, too. Or it might be because he works for the Colorado Independent, the internet version of the witness protection program.

    “It is no small irony that Obama leaves office with a 60 percent approval rating”

    I think Mr. Littwin may have missed the point here. Former President Obama got the 60 percent approval rating because he’s leaving office.

    Mr. Littwin is rapidly approaching the line separating sanity from journalism but he’s not alone: This from

    “Chauncey DeVega of Salon wrote of Trump supporters, “They made a decision that loyalty to whiteness took precedence to a shared sense of humanity and the Common Good.”
    Therefore, they almost deserve to suffer, he wrote.

    “The butcher’s bill has come due: President Donald Trump is about to victimize his own voters,” Salon titled his essay.

    “Our new president’s supporters are likely to suffer from his regressive policies. My compassion is limited,” DeVega wrote. “This is my version of liberal Schadenfreude — with slightly more hostile intent.”

    “Over at, another website full of leftist loathing, Yascha Mounk wrote on Thursday for his peers to stop hoping for impeachment.

    Instead, they should see a best-case scenario in Trump failing, and then being beaten in 2020 by a young charmer. (Sound familiar?)

    Impeachment may not be necessary, he thinks, even though “there is a chance that Trump marks the beginning of the end of American democracy. And, yes, there is a good chance that Trump will corrupt the American republic in lasting ways. But there is also a chance that this scary story will ultimately have a happy ending.””

    “”No list is complete without Paul Krugman, the oddball economist and Times columnist who once suggested Trump pined for an event like the attacks of Sept. 11. 2001, to boost his presidency.

    Krugman tweeted that Trump may have wanted military equipment at his parade, but “at least he didn’t want the marching soldiers goose-stepping — as far as we know.””

    “Turn out the lights the party’s over” at least for Mr. Littwin.


    “A Democratic Congresswoman has called for Donald Trump to be impeached on the grounds that he coined the term ‘crooked Hillary’ in collusion with the Russian government, even suggesting that the Kremlin was feeding Trump such lines to use during his campaign.” –

    “What happened (election) night shocked even the most pessimistic Democrats. But in another sense, it was the reckoning the party had been expecting for years. They were counting on a Clinton win to paper over a deeper rot they’ve been worrying about—and to buy them some time to start coming up with answers. In other words, it wasn’t just Donald Trump. Or the Russians. Or James Comey. Or all the problems with how Clinton and her aides ran the campaign. Win or lose, Democrats were facing an existential crisis in the years ahead—the result of years of complacency, ignoring the withering of the grass roots and the state parties, sitting by as Republicans racked up local win after local win.

    “The patient,” says Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, “was clearly already sick.”

    What’s clear from interviews with several dozen top Democratic politicians and operatives at all levels, however, is that there is no comeback strategy—just a collection of half-formed ideas, all of them challenged by reality. And for whatever scheme they come up with, Democrats don’t even have a flag-carrier. Barack Obama? He doesn’t want the job. Hillary Clinton? Too damaged. Bernie Sanders? Too socialist. Joe Biden? Too tied to Obama. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer? Too Washington. Elizabeth Warren? Maybe. And all of them old, old, old.

    The Democrats’ desolation is staggering. But part of the problem is that it’s easy to point to signs that maybe things aren’t so bad. After all, Clinton did beat Trump by 2.8 million votes, Obama’s approval rating is nearly 60 percent, polls show Democrats way ahead of the GOP on many issues and demographics suggest that gap will only grow. But they are stuck in the minority in Congress with no end in sight, have only 16 governors left and face 32 state legislatures fully under GOP control. Their top leaders in the House are all over 70. Their top leaders in the Senate are all over 60. Under Obama, Democrats have lost 1,034 seats at the state and federal level—there’s no bench, no bench for a bench, virtually no one able to speak for the party as a whole.

    There hasn’t been an American political party in worse shape in living memory. And there may never have been a party less ready to confront it.” –

    “For all President Obama’s claims to want a smooth transition to the new administration, his people have been laying plenty of land mines for Team Trump.

    Some are plainly Obama’s doing, from that anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution to slamming the door on Cuban refugees.

    The Cuba move may be the most ironic, given fears on the left that Trump would close the door on refugees. Yet here’s Obama, denying to Cubans who flee the island dictatorship the protection — instituted by President Bill Clinton in 1995 — of legal residency if they make it to US soil.” – New York Post

    “CNN analyst Marc Lamont Hill attacked a fellow panelist Monday for his work on Donald Trump‘s National Diversity Coalition, calling him a “mediocre Negro” being manipulated by Trump.
    “Yeah, it was a bunch of mediocre Negroes being dragged in front of TV as a photo-op for Donald Trump’s exploitative campaign against black people. And you are an example of that,” Hill shot back.” –

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Veterans Day – November 10, 2017

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