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Critics Zero in on Trump's Inaugural Address

One Trump supporter called it the best speech he had ever heard



    On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. (Published Friday, Jan. 20, 2017)

    As soon as Donald Trump had delivered his inauguration address, the critique began.

    His speech offered few lines to bring together a deeply divided country, many lines of criticism for the politicians gathered around him on the steps of the Capitol, a reference to American nativism in World War II and a dark vision of America of mothers and children in poverty, and crime, gangs and drugs devastating the country, pundits noted.

    J. Scott Applewhite/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Vice President Mike Pence called the address inspiring -- and many of Trump's supporters applauded his words. Scott Presler, the founder of #GaysForTrump, called it the best he had ever heard.

    "I'm moved," he tweeted. 

    But others were censorious. 

    "Today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People," Trump said, later tweeting the sentence.

    John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

    Some listeners immediately noted the similarity to words uttered by Bane, the D.C. Comics villain, in "The Dark Knight Rises": "We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you... the people."

    Michael Gerson, President George W. Bush's chief speechwriter and now a columnist for The Washington Post, called it a speech for Republicans only.

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    “Together we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come,” Donald Trump said in his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, 2017.
    (Published Friday, Jan. 20, 2017)

    "It is truly shocking how disconnected this speech was from inaugural history," he tweeted. "An inaugural for red American alone." 

    One phrase, "America first," evoked a group that agitated against American entry into World War II. It was a questionable choice for some because of the group's demand that the United States negotiate with Adolf Hitler and its undercurrents of anti-Semitism and bigotry.

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    (Published Friday, Jan. 20, 2017)

    Nicholas Burns, a former American diplomat who served under both Republicans and Democrats, among them President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, and who is now a professor at the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, tweeted: "President Trump’s speech spelled a U.S. retreat from our open, confident, generous and hopeful leadership of the last 70 years."

    And Republican Bill Kristol, the editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard and no fan of Trump's, tweeted about the words missing in the speech: "liberty, equality, freedom (though "freedoms" used once), duty, Constitution, self-government."

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    Starting early in the morning of Donald Trump's inauguration ceremonies on Jan. 20, protesters clashed with police. At least 90 people were arrested.
    (Published Friday, Jan. 20, 2017)

    But one word that Trump did use jumped out: "carnage."

    Trump spoke of mothers and children trapped in poverty in inner cities, rusted-out factories, and crime, gangs and drugs, and he concluded: "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."

    Donald Trump Sworn in as 45th President

    [NATL] Donald Trump Sworn in as 45th President
    On Jan. 20, as revelers celebrated and protesters and disrupters clashed with police across the city, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
    (Published Friday, Jan. 20, 2017)

    According to a database compiled by The Washington Post, this was the first time "carnage" was used in an inaugural address.