President Trump raises a clenched fist at the conclusion of his inaugural address. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Breanne Deppisch contributed.

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump completed his hostile takeover of the Republican Party last July, and on Friday he completed his hostile, if temporary, takeover of Washington.

In some significant ways, Trump is more like a corporate raider of the 1980s, when he came of age, than a typical politician of 2017. Thirty years ago, Gordon Gekko might have been more likely to deliver the speech that the billionaire businessman did today than Ronald Reagan.

No president has ever before referred to “the establishment” in his inaugural address nor declared that every country in the world ought to pursue its own self-interest. But the guy who ended the Bush dynasty and then vanquished the Clinton machine, in a period of 17 months, put “the establishment” of both parties on notice once more.

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said, as leaders from each side of the aisle looked on stoically. “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. … What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.”

-- The last time a Republican was president, Trump was still a registered Democrat. His improbable success should be viewed mainly as the triumph of an independent populist who used the splintered GOP as a vehicle to win power.

A veteran Democratic operative told me recently that he believes, if Trump had decided in Sept. 2009 that he wanted to stay in their party and pandered accordingly with a similarly protectionist and isolationist us-versus-them message, he would have defeated Hillary for the nomination in 2016. This person, it should be noted, spent last year working on Clinton’s behalf.

-- Just as Trump figured out a way to co-opt the conservative movement, Republicans in Washington (from K Street to the Capitol) are now trying to co-opt him and the Trumpist movement. In many cases, the Trump-GOP relationship can be symbiotic. But the inaugural address hinted pretty strongly at the fundamental divergence between the two sides over the virtue of free trade, the value of immigration, the size of government, the role the state should play in people’s personal lives and America’s place in the world.

The most important question, which we will find out the answer to over the coming year, is whether Trump will let himself be used as a vessel to advance an agenda that is not really his own or whether movement conservatives will continue to capitulate and kowtow when their priorities and values conflict with Trump’s.

George W. Bush exits Trump's inauguration. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)


-- The new president repeatedly proclaimed this afternoon that he will be guided by the doctrine of “America First,” a mantra first popularized in the 1930s by isolationists like Charles Lindbergh as they sought to stop the U.S. from helping Europe save itself from the Nazis.

Trump explicitly wants America to scale backs its footprint overseas. His inaugural address constitutes a wholesale repudiation of the post-World War II, bipartisan Washington consensus that the U.S. has a duty to be engaged in the world. Going back to Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the promotion of democracy has been a general aim of American foreign policy. Trump, who sees himself a clear-eyed realist, believes that’s a waste.

-- More specifically, Trump’s call for the country to turn inward can be read as a rebuttal of George W. Bush’s second inaugural address. Compare what Bush said in 2005 to what Trump said today:

  • Bush: “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. We have seen our vulnerability, and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny -- prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder -- violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. … We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one."
  • Trump: “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone … For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We've defended other nations' borders while refusing to defend our own. And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We've made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon. … The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.”

-- The new president then issued what he called “a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power”: “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first. … Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration (and) on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

-- Stephen Bannon described the speech afterwards as “an unvarnished declaration of the basic principles” of Trump’s brand of nationalism. “I don’t think we’ve had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House,” Bannon told Bob Costa. (If you missed it, this morning’s Big Idea was about why Trump embraced Jackson as a role model. Read it here.)


1. The warm-up speakers unintentionally underscored how divided the country has become.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the only Democrat to speak during the program, was interrupted several times by boos as he gently rebuked Trumpism. “We live in a challenging and tumultuous time, a quickly evolving, ever more interconnected world, a rapidly changing economy that benefits too few, while leaving too many behind, a fractured media, a politics frequently consumed by rancor,” he said, as the crowd out on the National Mall began to jeer.

The New York senator was about to say that he’s the confident the country will persevere, but the Trump fans in the crowd didn’t hear that part because they were booing. “Every day, we stand up for core democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution,” Schumer said, “the rule of law, equal protection for all under law, the freedom of speech, press, religion — the things that make America America.” A few years back, who would have thought that a line like this would become so controversial?

Roy Blunt, the chairman of the committee that organized the inauguration, delivered a subtle critique of the 67 House Democrats who boycotted the ceremony. He said that the day was “not a celebration of victory but a celebration of democracy.” The Republican senator from Missouri then delivered a poignant history lesson about the peaceful transfer of power, making the point that John Adams turning over the presidency to Thomas Jefferson was as big as deal as George Washington stepping aside for Adams because it showed that political rivals could play by the rules enshrined in the Constitution. He quoted Ronald Reagan’s 1981 declaration that inaugurations are “both commonplace and miraculous.” These comments, just as seemingly anodyne as Schumer’s, drew attacks from the left on social media, with activists claiming that Trump is not legitimate.

2. Trump stuck to his script. He was self-disciplined during the ceremony and hewed closely to his script, intent on playing the part of a president. I wonder if it occurred to Obama as he watched Trump turn his head left and right to read from the Teleprompters that his successor once relentlessly mocked him, in virtually every speech, for using the same machines.

3. The inaugural speech was not too different from Trump’s stump speech during the campaign. There were no chants of “lock her up,” and he didn’t swear. But several of the riffs and the closing – when the crowd joined with Trump to say “Make America Great Again” in unison – sounded exactly like something he might have said in October.

4. He continued to paint an exceptionally dark portrait of America. One of the pastors who prayed during the invocation read from the chapter in Matthew that inspired “the shining city upon a hill” Ronald Reagan loved to talk about. Trump nodded briefly to the idea that America can be a beacon of hope, but he mostly reiterated the Hobbesian world view that characterized his speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

In fact, the president literally spoke of “American carnage”: “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. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

5. The anarchists in the streets are playing right into Trump’s hands. The mass disturbances across Washington today highlight some of the non-GOP resistance Trump will face, but the anarchy – including a limo being torched right outside of The Post’s newsroom – plays into the president’s hands. It earns Trump public sympathy and validates his dark warnings about lurking dangers on the home front. It also makes it harder for conservatives to resist potential executive overreach.

For Trump’s “haters,” as he likes to call them, the fact that rain began to fall at exactly the moment he started to speak signaled something significant. There were also little, non-violent reminders of the strenuous opposition he will face no matter what he does. Someone in the stands loudly blew a whistle as he took the oath of office, which could be heard on stage, as another protester yelled that he was “illegitimate.” Both noises were drowned out by a 21-gun salute. (Chief Justice John Roberts got the words right this time, by the way.)

6. Finally, Trump set a very high bar for himself to clear in 2020. “I will never, ever let you down,” he declared. The president told people as he worked on the speech that he was intrigued by John F. Kennedy’s 1961 call for getting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. He rolled out no moonshot initiative today, but Trump did say elliptically that he’s excited “to free the earth from the miseries of disease.” That line reminded me of when Obama declared that the seas would stop rising after he won.

He made several big promises that his opponents will certainly try to remind voters of when he seeks reelection. Among them was a promise to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.” He also promised to “bring back our jobs … bring back our borders … bring back our wealth … (and) bring back our dreams.”

The challenge of governing is that you have to produce results, and that’s clearly starting to sink in. As Trump said, “We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over.”

Welcome to a special evening edition of The Daily 202. Sign up to receive the newsletter.



-- After the inaugural parade ended and before the balls began, President Trump returned to the White House to sign an executive order his spokesman said directed federal agencies to “ease the burdens” of the Affordable Care Act as the administration works toward a “repeal and replace” of the health-care law. From Rachel Weiner: “Reporters said they could get no more details on what the order actually said. Trump signed several executive orders earlier in the day. The most significant undid a recent mortgage-fee reduction geared at helping first-time and low-income home buyers. The new president did not mention health care in his speech Friday, nor was the issue highlighted in his overhaul of the White House website. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was also directing Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to carry out an immediate regulatory freeze.” (Follow the liveblog for more.)

-- The Senate confirmed James Mattis as defense secretary and John Kelly as homeland security secretary.  Mike Pompeo will get confirmed on Monday. (Dan Lamothe; Jerry Markon)

-- Another change:


-- Protests rocked downtown D.C. At least 217 protesters were arrested as they tried to wreak havoc on the city, at times disrupting security checkpoints and preventing the flow of crowds. From Theresa Vargas, Taylor Hartz and Arelis Hernandez: "Many of the demonstrations were nonviolent, with people holding signs that spoke to their causes and concern ... After the swearing in, protesters arrived at the Franklin Square area and clashed with police. The protesters were throwing rocks, bricks and chunks of concrete and taking newspaper boxes and barriers and putting them on the streets. Meanwhile police appeared to be using a flurry of flash-bang grenades and chemical spray to hold the protesters back ... During the clash after 2 p.m., the protesters started a fire in the middle of the street using garbage bins and newspaper boxes, and some climbed trees and light poles. About 100 officers in riot gear, carrying shields, stood in a line blocking off K Street."

Our photographers captured images of the scene downtown:



-- "Trump's speech was a sharp break with the past -- and his party," by Marc Fisher: “Trump had said he was modeling his address after his favorites: Kennedy’s short, stirring call in 1961 … and Reagan’s gracious but blunt 1981 speech, perhaps the first inaugural oration to include a moving anecdote about an ordinary American. [But] Kennedy reached in nearly every paragraph for poetry and posterity. Reagan’s full speech was a masterful blend of velvet and hammer." Trump, meanwhile, offered no such cautions. “He promised to ‘eradicate completely from the face of the earth...radical Islamic terrorism,’ and he repeatedly swore allegiance to Charles Lindbergh’s ‘America First’ theme, stating that he will ‘follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.’ His central message for his presidency was a near-perfect copy of the core of his campaign, a resolute belief that America is severely damaged and only Trump can fix it. ‘The time for empty talk is over,’ he said. “Now arrives the hour of action.’”

-- “The flamethrower has been passed to a new generation, an older generation, bristling with resentments yet faithful to themes of the 2016 campaign,” Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro writes. “Trump may well be a president who, like automaker Henry Ford, believes that ‘history is bunk.’ But it was striking how much borrowed 1930s imagery was embedded in the 16-minute speech. There was also an echo of FDR’s 1937 Inaugural Address as Trump portrayed the America he was inheriting. Roosevelt declared, ‘I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.’ For President Trump, it was ‘rusted out factories …’ and ‘the crime and the gangs and the drugs …’ Of course, there is overwhelming evidence that the crime rate has plunged ... And economists will eagerly point out that changing technology (like robotics) have done far more than trade treaties like NAFTA to hollow out America’s 1950s industrial core. But that’s not the view that the new president saw from the campaign trail and from his fortress of solitude atop Trump Tower. Much about Trump may reflect the cynicism of the eternal huckster, but his portrayal of a dying America calling out for rescue by a super hero seems sincere.

-- “His inauguration speech couldn’t have been more Trumpian: populist and polarizing, nationalistic and negative,” National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar writes. “What was absent from the address was any olive branch to the opposition he so thoroughly repudiated during the campaign, or even to Republicans on Capitol Hill who he will need to turn his ideas into legislation. … Trump’s aggressively populist approach relies on a unified Republican party, which remains skeptical of his divergence from party orthodoxy, and deep support from his base, which so far is willing to give him the space he needs to live up to his promises. [And] with GOP control of Congress, Trump could certainly see his approval rise once legislation gets passed … But if he fails to live up to his formidable promise of making America great again, he won’t have many friends left in Washington.”

-- “Trump’s short speech offered essentially no acknowledgement of the millions who opposed his campaign,” ABC News’ Rick Klein writes. “It was an appeal and a pledge to his base … and not those greeting this era with trepidation. In vowing to be their voice, Trump outlined a vision for unity that starts with a nation lining up behind its new president. He hinted at an agenda that will scramble party lines – on trade, on infrastructure – while emphasizing aspects that are likely to harden his opposition. Trump’s vision is a rebuke not just to President Obama but to presidents who came before him. His suggestion that ‘you, the people’ will now come back into great power is provocative, and could test his own Republican Party’s loyalty to him. Trump’s hope is that success will be its own uniting force – a new creed built around a new president, at an anxious time for the nation.”

-- “This was a dark inaugural,” says the New Yorker’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells.The America Trump described was filled with victims: of ‘inner city’ poverty, of ‘crime and drugs and gangs,’ of ‘rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.’ But even starker was how forcefully Trump compressed history. There were no nods to ‘the sacrifices borne by our ancestors,’ which Obama spoke of in his first inaugural address, or to America’s values, or to its spirit. ‘For many decades,’ Trump insisted, the country had ‘enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry,’ “defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own,” and “made other countries rich” while “the factories shuttered and left our shores.’ The story of the country was a story of decline. ‘But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future,’ Trump said. ‘From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land …’”


-- Kellyanne Conway had promised that the speech would be “elegant,” said conservative columnist George F. Will. “[But] this is not the adjective that came to mind as he described ‘American carnage.’ That was a phrase the likes of which has never hitherto been spoken at an inauguration. Oblivious to the moment and the setting, the always remarkable Trump proved that something dystopian can be strangely exhilarating: In what should have been a civic liturgy serving national unity and confidence, he vindicated his severest critics by serving up reheated campaign rhetoric about ‘rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape’ and an education system producing students ‘deprived of all knowledge.’ Yes, all. But cheer up, because the carnage will vanish if we ‘follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.’ Twenty minutes into his presidency, [Trump], who is always claiming to have made, or to be about to make, astonishing history, had done so. Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history.”

-- “Trump has only one style of leadership -- amplify resentments to intimidate opponents and force change,” writes Post columnist and former Bush 43 speechwriter Michael Gerson“It is truly shocking how disconnected this speech was from inaugural history. An inaugural for red American alone … Trump brought the culture war to the solemn, center stage of American democracy, and cheapened the office and the moment.”

-- Trump’s inaugural speech was notable for its “disconnect from reality,” former Bush adviser Peter Wehner writes for the New York Times: “Start with what he referred to as the ‘American carnage’ — a dystopian nation, broken and shattered. America has problems for sure, including deep pockets of poverty and distress, but Trump’s America is not the real America. Then there’s the unreality of what life in America will be like during the Trump presidency. He will lead us to the promised land, a nation with no need unmet, no problem unsolved, no dream beyond our reach. He promised not just a better America, but a nearly perfect America, down to its roads and bridges. He will now be held to those promises. And on national security, President Trump, in speaking about radical Islamic terrorism, promised to ‘eradicate’ it ‘completely from the face of the earth.’ No, he won’t. President Trump ended his speech by saying: ‘The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.’ That is true enough … What [he] may not yet realize is that that standard now applies to him.”

-- “Trump delivered his combative speech in the midst of the very establishment he is attempting to overthrow,” the Washington Free Beacon’s Matthew Continetti writes. “Surrounded by Bushes, Clintons, Obamas, Bidens, and Ryans, Trump aligned himself with the crowd against the celebrities and VIPs on the dais. Mass rallies, social media, and sheer force of personality are his weapons as he attempts to defenestrate the ruling class in Washington and bring a new spirit of patriotism to America … He draws strength from his gut connection with Jacksonian America—a connection deepened and enriched by one of the most combative, polarizing, bold, evocative, and indeed revolutionary inaugural addresses in American history … There will be more policy specifics when Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on his budget proposal. Instead the inaugural address was Trump distilled: nationalist, populist, and ready to fight.”

-- Many said the speech was clearly written by Trump's two Steves: Bannon and Miller. “I can see the fist of Bannon and Miller in this,” said Florida-based Republican consultant Rick Wilson, a Never Trumper. “Much like his convention speech, it's a portrait of a dark, dead America, fueled by the promise of revenge and economic fantasy.”

-- A senior writer for The Weekly Standard called it unrealistic:

-- WaPo conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin called the speech decidedly not conservative:


-- “The methods of a skilled con artist have worked just barely well enough to deliver the presidency to Trump,” New York  Magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes. “But what happens when his grandiose promises fail to materialize? And when the aspects of his program that he never mentioned in his speech — tax cuts for the rich, stripping away health insurance from millions, massive graft — do take place? A con artist who always escaped his old victims and found new ones has reached the maximal limits of his strategy. What happens when the marks are demanding that the promises he made be redeemed, and there is nowhere for him to go, and he commands the powers of the state?:

-- Trump’s remarks offered nothing to soothe widely-held fears about his presidency, says PlumLine's Greg Sargent: “The vow to ‘reinforce old alliances’ was too vague to be reassuring. The vow to ‘unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism’ offers no meaningful recognition of the need to reach out to moderate Muslims in order to ally with them against terrorism (indeed, his very formulation, in the view of national security professionals, risks alienating them by casting Islam as the enemy). And was there any meaningful effort at racial or ethic reconciliation here to speak of? The first quote above is a gesture, and elsewhere Trump did say that all races bleed the same color of blood, but these remain too platitudinous to mean much of anything. Trump’s inaugural speech offered almost nothing meaningful to assuage [fears] ... Making this more striking still, this comes after Trump lost the popular vote and enters office as the least popular president in decades."


-- The crowd size for the inaugural ceremony did not appear to be anywhere as large as past year. Philip Bump breaks down the optics: "It can be tricky to evaluate attendance at events based solely on photos. Perspective matters, as does the time at which the photos were taken. Take the images below, from the inaugurations in 2009 and 2017," Phil writes. He then compares some images from past inaugurals to the ones today.

Here's a shot from Obama's inaugural in 2009:

And one from Trump's in 2017:

A side-by-side image from the Boston Globe's Matt Viser:

Here's the scene just one hour before Trump was sworn in:

Here's one of the parade route, several hours before the parade began:

-- Washington, D.C. metro ridership for the inauguration was the lowest it's been in years, writes Faiz Siddiqi: "The transit agency said about 193,000 people had taken trips through the system as of 11 a.m. That’s significantly lower than figures from the 2009 and 2013 Inaugurations of President Barack Obama, and on par with ridership for President George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005."


Hillary put her game face on, but it wasn't easy:

Clinton antagonist Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, posted a picture of himself shaking hands with Hillary. But look at the caption:

At the post-ceremony lunch in Statuary Hall, Trump asked attendees to give his former rival a standing ovation:

A video of the scene:

Mike Huckabee praised Clinton for attending:

After Trump's speech, Bob Costa tried to ask HRC what she thought of it:

She was diplomatic on social media:


-- “After Trump pledges ‘America First,’ the world responds with protests and dismay," by Griff Witte “If the credo of the new U.S. president is ‘America First' ... where does that leave the rest of the world? That’s what people … were left to wonder after watching Trump ... Although world leaders showered Trump with a cascade of politely worded tweets and congratulatory messages, the mood on the streets in many world cities was far more unsettled. ... The world’s divided response mirrored the one in the United States: defiance and despair in some quarters, enthusiasm and optimism in others and profound polarization as far as the eye can see.”

  • In London, hundreds of people gathered in the evening chill to chant ‘Dump Trump!’ outside the American embassy.
  • In Mexico City, residents took to social networks to debate not whether Trump was good or bad, but how grave the new era might be.
  • In Beirut, observers compared Trump’s speech to those by their own region’s past and present despots.

Protesters burned the American flag and an effigy of Trump in front of the U.S. embassy in Montreal, Canada:

(Christinne Muschi/Reuters)


Outgoing White House photographer Pete Souza captured these emotional shots of Obama as he departed the White House and then D.C. en route to Palm Springs:

A final thought from the Obamas:


Because of course he would...


-- On, Team Trump uploaded a number of policy papers on the economy, foreign policy and law enforcement. From Ashley Parker: "His policies included plans to both withdraw from and renegotiate major trade deals, grow the nation's military and increase cyber-security capabilities, build a wall at the nation's southern border and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes. Strikingly absent from the six issues the website highlights — and from his speech Friday — was anything on repealing or replacing Obamacare."

Here are some interesting things about the new material:

-- Melania Trump's bio page on the White House website is a little different than that of other first ladies, Kelsey Snell flags: "Visitors... get more than a simple rundown of first lady Melania Trump’s charitable works and interests — they also get a list of her magazine cover appearances and details on her jewelry line at QVC ... the website includes a lengthy list of brands that hired her as a model and several of the magazines in which she appeared, including the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue ... The site also lists the brand names of Trump’s jewelry lines sold on QVC, at a time when questions have been raised by critics about the ethical implications of the family’s business entanglements. 'Melania is also a successful entrepreneur. In April 2010, Melania Trump launched her own jewelry collection, ‘Melania™ Timepieces & Jewelry,’ on QVC,' the site reads."

The first photo posted to the Trump White House Instagram account:


Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon, who will run the White House, wait for the inaugural ceremony to begin:

Trump aide Kellyanne Conway's coat got attention:

GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) took a selfie:


-- Participants continued to stream into the nation’s capital, readying for a second, larger – but hopefully peaceful – day of protesting.

Finally, here's a three-minute highlight reel of Trump's whirlwind day: