How Trump left the White House

January 20, 2021

On 20 September, President Trump left the White House and travelled via Joint Andrews Base to his Florida home. His departure was synchronised with the arrival of President Elect Joe Biden for his inauguration as POTUS No 50. For many people it will become a historic day marked in memory

I pick up the story with the CNN coverage (times are GMT)

1.00pm
Waiting for DT’s departure from the White House. A dribble of red carpet. The helicopter, Marine One, is standing by. A near-deserted scene despite his extensive invitation list. Vice-President Pence is absent.
1.30pm
A brief sighting of Trump and the First Lady crossing the red carpet, and moving quickly into
the ‘copter which leaves, and makes a brief circle around Washington, a city locked down, and guarded with armed troops. The departure has been timed for his final leg of the journey during which he will still departing President, entitled to leave on Air Force One at Andrews Military Base.
The arrival at Andrews is being orchestrated like one of his rallies. Trump makes a speech lauding his efforts. Says that the incoming administration is poised to take off, thanks to his efforts. Noticable that he makes no reference to Joe Biden during his remarks, Nor in his brief video prepared for the day.
2.00pm Split screen shots one of the Biden entourage arriving at Mass, and the other of Air Force One shown climbing on its way to Florida.

3.30pm President and Vice President elect and dignitaries arrive at the Capitol. Outside on the Mall, no crowds of thousands to share the occasion, but a vast field of flags representing the number of jubilant spectators who would have been granted admission tickets. Former Presidents and First ladies arrive. Special warmth shown for the Obamas, even with the relatively small assembly. Vice President Pence continues to depute for the ceremonies abandoned by Trump.

4.30pm. Ceremonials start. I note the regular wiping down of the podium after each speaker. A short prayer. A flag bearing. Lady Gaga for the national anthem. The girl can sing. With a minimum of flourishes ‘by Lady Gaga standards’ adds a commentator. Pledge of Alliance by a firefighter. Induction of Kamala Harris by Sonia Sonnermair. Groundbreaking in so many ways. Then Jennifer Lopez for America the Beautiful. Permission granted for a grand performance. John Roberts to administer the oath. A child cries softly in the background. Biden solemnly swears. It is ten minutes before power changes at midday.

Biden speaks. Success requires unity. My whole soul is with this cause. To fight enemies, extremism, anger, poverty, we can overcome the deadly virus. We can make America great again (!) . At moments of crisis we have come together. Can treat each other with dignity. We must meet this moment as the United (emphasis) States of America. Hear me out. Disagreement must not lead to disunity. I will be President for all Americans. We have a duty to defeat the lies. We must end this uncivil war. We can do this. We will need each other. To face this epidemic as one nation. We will get through this together. America has been tested. We will lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example. [Calls for a silent prayer]. Repeats his sacred oath ‘to write an American story’.

An impressive speech. A man who made a mockery of those who mocked his speech frailties.


Charlottesville: On the moral case for passing judgement

August 14, 2017

America today is debating the implications of the extremist demonstrations in Charlottesville, and weighing leadership responsibilities for the rioting and murder of a peaceful counter-protester

The unpleasant and unacceptable demonstrations resulted in the death of a peaceful protester, and two police officers acting in the line of duty.

President Trump eventually made a statement which sounded statesmanlike but brought down on himself criticism for his failure to make any reference to the nature of the demonstration.

The objections to this were summarised by U.S. Senator Kamala Harris

From Senator Harris’s statement

As we all now know, this weekend in Charlottesville, hundreds of white supremacists gathered with torches, shouting racial, ethnic and religious epithets about Black and Jewish people, chanting Nazi slurs, waving the Confederate flag and banners emblazoned with giant swastikas. A peaceful protester was murdered. Two brave police officers lost their lives.

And as the country grappled with this tragedy, we were told that “many sides” should be condemned. Many sides.I often advocate that we look at many sides of an issue, walk in someone else’s shoes, and identify and reject false choices.

But there are not “many sides” to this.

“Many sides” is what kept children in this country at separate schools and adults at separate lunch counters for decades.

“Many sides” is what turned a blind eye when Emmett Till was lynched and stood silent when marchers were beat in Selma for “disturbing the peace.”

“Many sides” is what my parents and thousands of others fought against during the Civil Rights Movement.

“Many sides” suggests that there is no right side or wrong side, that all are morally equal. But I reject that. It’s not hard to spot the wrong side here. They’re the ones with the torches and the swastikas.

 

Beyond the moral injunction

The Senator shows the importance of looking at context behind the literal words. President Trump said that all violence should be condemned. No argument with that is there? Until the context is added. Then, the high moral tone of Presidential words requires more precise interrogation. Is he saying that ‘We the people’ are failing to condemn violence against White Supremacists, and that he will help us reach his own moral high ground?

Is this a President who has a track record of seeking to defuse violence, and who avoids condemning those “on other sides”?

And what about Jeremy?

The Spectator found a way of dealing with today’s story by referring to the repeated use of a similar sounding argument by UK labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. In particular, Corbyn is often challenged for his association with revolutionary figures. Corbyn asserts that he wishes to avoid, not promote, violence by meetings with, among others, the IRA leadership decades ago, while they were still engaged in bloody violence against the state. If I follow the logic, the objection is that Corbyn did not condemn the IRA violence, thus showing he is on the side of the IRA.

Enough people voted for Corbyn in June to suggest the case against him in this respect is not a powerful one.

Post Script

Within minutes of my posting the above, news reached me that Kenneth Frazier, the Afro-American CEO of Merck, had quit an advisory council over the President’s failure to deal adequately with the implications of the Charlottesville events. Mr Trump found time to tweet some unpleasant comments about the defection, before offering a moving and complete repudiation of racism in all its manifestations.

So, that’s all right then

To be continued