Before I launch into a few items taking critics of the new president to task, let me strike a blow for objective rationality: The Obama inauguration in 2009 obviously had a greater attendance and a bigger TV viewership than we saw Friday.
As such, it was silly for Trump’s chief voices, Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer, to dispute this. Conway’s coining of an instantly infamous new term — “alternative facts”— was not the kind of thing to build confidence right out of the starting blocks.
But please, a moment of context. Observing the media convulsions over this, you might have thought the new administration had lied about the cause of a terrorist attack, or what the public might expect from a signature piece of legislation.
But wait. We’ve seen those fabrications, from Trump’s predecessor, and we’ve seen the media reaction, a comparative collective yawn. So pardon me if I won’t hear a lot of finger-wagging from people who did not recoil at “Benghazi was caused by a video” and “You can keep your doctor.”
The inaugural address and resulting protests also drew some telling reaction.
Regarding the speech, I am more than willing to hear the observations of fans and critics alike. But when the ham-handed criticism comes from supposedly objective reporters, it is a reminder of why the dominant media culture has received such a black eye of late.
Exhibit A: The observation that the speech was “dark,” some foreboding moment of calamitous dread. I guarantee you Trump voters did not view it as such. I don’t need reporters to fawn over the address as if they were on the campaign staff, but large chunks of analysis seemed gleaned from Democrat index cards.
The first step of solving a problem is assessing it. Trying to combat global jihad? First the level of threat must be assessed, which has not exactly been an urgent task for the last eight years.
Searching for programs that might be of value in addressing drugs, gangs, crime-ridden inner cities? The starting block is observing the depth of the problems, which Trump artfully called “American carnage,” earning condemnation from those uninterested in such clear-eyed assessments.
Bulletin: Those of us looking to make actual progress out of the various holes our nation has dug are actually inspired by a president willing to speak truth to the status quo for starters.
I also enjoyed the laments of the “missed opportunities” of the inaugural address, offered by helpful souls who thought he should reach out to constituencies who were not exactly friendly to his ascendancy. The suggestion: He should have “reached out” to women and minorities with specific olive branches designed to make peace.
Has anyone paid any attention for the last year? If not, here’s a clue: The new president rejects completely the balkanization and hyphens of identity politics. Want to know what he’s going to do for women? For blacks? For Hispanics? He’s going to revitalize the economy, strengthen borders and install constitutionalist Supreme Court justices, which will actually help everyone irrespective of sex or race.
Finally, speaking of women, let’s dispense with the notion that Saturday’s protests were about womanhood. My wife, daughter and radio producer, all women, were repelled by the excesses of that day’s main messaging: that American women are crushed by evil oppression from a woman-hating president. They were joined in their distaste by nearly 30 million other women who actually voted for Trump.
So because words matter: This was a march for liberalism (which is fine), populated by marchers who were almost all female (which is also fine). But this does not allow those in attendance to claim some exclusive mantle for the representation of women’s interests.
Mark Davis is a radio host in Texas and a columnist for The Dallas Morning News.