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Five takeaways from Trump’s inauguration

Caption: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Armed Forces Ball at the National Building Museum Jan.20 in Washington, DC. The ball was part of the celebrations following Trump’s inauguration. /AFP

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan.20 in Washington.

The day’s events contained all the pomp and circumstance meant to signify the peaceful transition of power. But Trump’s combative first speech as president also showcased his intent to shake things up in the nation’s capital.

Here are five takeaways from the inauguration.

  1. Trump is sticking to his campaign style

Anyone expecting Trump to pivot upon taking the oath of office was sorely mistaken.

In a blistering, 16-minute inaugural address, Trump doubled down on his populist vision for the country while promising voters he would stand up to the Washington establishment he railed against during the campaign.

“The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country,” said Trump, who has never held public office. “While they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

“That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.”

Trump made several pleas for unity, including later at the congressional luncheon when he said he had a “lot of respect” for his former opponent, Hillary Clinton.

But what stuck out more were the parallels to his campaign rhetoric.

He painted a picture of a country wracked by crisis — “American carnage,” he called it — and cast himself as the one who could fix it.

2. Trump as schmoozer-in-chief

President Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, was famously averse to glad-handing with members of Congress.

Obama long faced criticism that his aloof style hurt his ability to persuade lawmakers to advance his agenda, an accusation he long disputed.

If Jan.20 was any indication, Trump won’t be accused of the same thing.

He turned on the charm when he appeared with lawmakers at the Capitol to sign his first orders as president.

He joked with congressional leaders in both parties and offered them pens after signing the papers, which included formal nominations.

The president teased House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a staunch environmentalist, joking he should give her the pen he used to nominate Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Here’s one that I think Nancy would like … Scott Pruitt,” he said.

Of course, it remains to be seen how far Trump’s charm will get him.

Republicans such as Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) took a liking to his style, but it’s not clear if the same could be said for Democrats.

3. Dark day for Democrats

For liberals, Jan. 20 ushered in an unimaginable new reality.

The day was supposed to be the day Hillary Clinton was sworn in as the first female president.

Instead, Obama, the popular two-term president and first black man to serve in the nation’s highest office, sat by as a man deplored by liberals took the oath of office.

Trump has plans to take the country in an entirely different direction, starting with the dismantling of Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats will be hard pressed to stop him. Republicans have full control over the executive and legislative branches of government for the first time since 2007.

There was no more telling symbol of the end of the Obama Era than when television cameras cut away from the former president’s farewell speech at Andrews Air Force Base to focus their full attention on Trump’s activities at the Capitol.

Obama is leaving the White House with his party in disarray at both the state and federal level.

The party is seeking a new leader for the Democratic National Committee amid infighting among centrists and progressive, all while trying to build up their bench again for 2020.

Democrats are trying to wrap their minds about how it all went wrong, and Trump’s inauguration only served as a harsh reminder of their failure in November.

4. No moment of unity

Republican hopes the inauguration would serve as a unifying moment after a divisive election did not become a reality.

Many attendees loudly booed Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) during his speech and a large number could be seen waving a sarcastic goodbye as Obama flew on the presidential helicopter away from the Capitol complex.

Protestors also came out in force. A handful of demonstrators were dragged away by security in the well of the Capitol. One woman got as close as the Marine Corps Band, playing directly below Trump’s lecture, before police took her away.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a former presidential candidate and leading progressive, called the inauguration a “tough day” and dozens of Democratic lawmakers boycotted the day’s events.

Trump enters office with a historically low favourability rating, another possible challenge going forward.

5. Trump is moving quickly to put his stamp on the executive branch

“The time for empty talk is over,” Trump said in his inaugural address. “Now arrives the hour of action.”

Less than an hour after taking the oath of office, the White House’s webpage on climate change disappeared.

Trump’s first two Cabinet nominees, James Mattis and John Kelly, were confirmed by the Senate.

Mattis is a huge change for Washington. The retired general will be the first member of the military to lead the Pentagon in decades, and his appointment required passage of a waiver by Congress. Kelly will lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Government agencies are bracing for massive budget cuts. Those battles loom large over Trump’s first 100 days.

The press is unsure whether it will be granted a workspace at the White House or access to senior officials. Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon – who relishes fights with the media – took a stroll through the White House press corps workspace on Ja.20.

The daily press briefing could also see an overhaul.

“It will be a daily something,” incoming press secretary Sean Spicer told The Hill this month.

“When I say ‘something,’ maybe it’s a gaggle, maybe it’s an on-camera briefing. Maybe we solicit talk radio and regional newspapers to submit questions — because they can’t afford to be in Washington — but they still have a question. Maybe we just let the American people submit questions that we read off as well.”

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editor@independent.co.ug

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