On Eve of Trump Presidency, Rancor, Trepidation and High Hopes

WASHINGTON - The moment he raises his right hand and recites the oath of office, Donald Trump will become the least popular president in at least four decades.He's promised an era of prosperity, pride and unity. But his many detractors remain unpersuaded.A flurry of polls released this week show approval ratings hovering around 44 percent. That's lower than the share of the popular vote he collected on Election Day, which is unusual. At this point eight years ago, nearly eight in 10 Americans viewed Barack Obama favorably. Even George W. Bush, who took office after a recount that hinged on a few hundred ballots, entered under less of a cloud.Trump is hardly hobbled, though. The presidency will only magnify his ability to command attention, browbeat the news media, squeeze corporate executives and pummel political opponents.He has set ambitious goals for the first 100 days. And the legions of supporters who propelled his improbable candidacy expect him to deliver: Drain the swamp, overhaul health care, rewrite tax policy, renegotiate trade deals, fix the immigration system."You just have to understand the energy and the enthusiasm of Donald Trump is contagious," the incoming vice president, Mike Pence, told reporters on Thursday at the transition office a few blocks from the White House. "Our job really was to make sure the president-elect had the opportunity to make decisions, to assemble the team around him that will make America great again.... Our job is to be ready on day one. The American people can be confident that we will be."Sometime Friday afternoon, or perhaps over the weekend, Trump will begin signing orders revoking Obama's executive orders. The torrent will continue for weeks.Yet Trump and Pence take office with something less than a convincing mandate, and amid unmatched levels of rancor.At last count, 68 Democrats in Congress declared they will boycott his inauguration.Some, including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, question his legitimacy, noting the taint of Russian cyberattacks during the election and the fact that he trailed Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million ballots nationwide, even though he won convincingly in the Electoral College.  Continue reading...

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