Thousands of eager supporters waited under gray clouds and sprinkles of rain. Eager supporters waited on the National Mall to see their new President deliver his first address. But before the ceremony even began, controversy loomed.
Trump’s inaugural committee found difficulty recruiting artists to perform at his “Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration” concert. When Elton John was floated as an option, the English singer, who was an outspoken Clinton supporter, quickly shut it down, saying “it’s nothing personal… [but] I’m not a Republican in a million years.” Other singers joined the chorus of voices boycotting President Trump’s inauguration. Finally, Trump’s team found their match in Lee Greenwood, Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, DJ Ravidrums, and the Piano Guys. Trump hosted the event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. With fireworks and dancing, the sun set on President Barack Obama’s last day in office.
The day-long marathon of Inauguration events began early in the morning. First, President Obama, Michelle Obama, President Trump, and his wife, Melania Trump, met for tea. After that, in a powerful and traditional symbol of the peaceful transfer of power, Trump and Obama shared a car for the procession to the Capitol.
The inauguration stand on the western front of the capitol was packed with important Washington leaders of past and present. President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush, and Belmont Hill alumni General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, were seated behind the presidential podium. Hillary Clinton, Trump’s bitter rival throughout the election, was accompanied by President Bill Clinton. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the presidential oath of office, and President Trump swore on both his childhood bible and the Lincoln bible.
President Trump’s inaugural address, written by aides Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, focused on many of the messages he focused on during his campaign; it highlighted his philosophy of “America First.” In front of a crowd of established politicians, Trump went to the jugular early on, declaring that “a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost… That all changes — starting right here, and right now.” Trump touched on quelling the “carnage” of the inner cities, tightening up the borders, and bringing back jobs. The speech also invoked God multiple times, a strange move for a man who was controversial among Evangelical leaders and remarked in 2015 that he has never sought for forgiveness from God.
The true controversy began after the inauguration had concluded. Many social media users remarked that Trump’s inauguration crowd was lackluster compared to President Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Trump fired back, saying his inauguration crowd “looked like a million, a million and a half people.” But numbers do not lie. Trump’s inauguration crowd was estimated to be 160,000 people. Obama’s was 1.8 million in 2008.
But Obama wasn’t the only one that beat President Trump’s crowd. The very next day, an estimated 470,000 people participated in the Women’s March on Washington. The worldwide movement was a show of force against what many perceive to be a threat to women’s rights in Trump’s administration. Marches were staged in London (100,000 people), Chicago (250,000), Los Angeles (750,000), New York (400,000), and Boston (175,000).
The spit over crowd sizes became a story after the White House Press Secretary scolded reporters for lying about Trump’s crowd size. Trump Advisor Kellyanne Conway backed him up, saying Spicer was reporting “alternative facts.” The internet pounced and made memes.
Trump is off to a rocky start. He has stumbled out of the gates. He has damaged his image by making an embarrassing “nonstory” a story. Whether he is able to let it go and let the news cycle pass is yet to be seen.