THE BLOG

Time For Trump Town

20/01/2017 13:53 GMT | Updated 20/01/2017 13:54 GMT
DanBrandenburg via Getty Images

There won't have been a dry eye in the house at President Trump's inauguration in Washington DC not because people will have been moved by the power of the new president's oratory but because of the change from 44 to 45th president. Hardly can there ever have been a more marked transition: from the polite and poised President Obama to The (disconcerting and disruptive) Donald.

Over recent weeks, nothing became President Obama like the manner of his leaving: tearful valedictory speeches, surprise public appearances to thank his officials, emotional tributes to Michelle, even a medal of freedom award for VP Biden, all highlighted the decency and demonstrative nature of the man, suitably and richly repaid by popular well-wishers on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Even Obamacare was getting some positive media coverage, for once.

Gone are the days when President Obama was recording historically low approval ratings for his performance, on foreign policy and even on tackling terrorism. It is important not to forget that happened - and that Hillary's campaign, which was seen very much as continuation rather than change, failed to win the Electoral College votes she needed, even if the popular vote was very much in her favour. The memory of lows during the mid-term of Obama's presidency have now been eclipsed by President Trump's record poor approval ratings at inauguration.

In an election campaign marked more by the personal and personality flaws of both candidates, there is not much about which we can be really certain on President Trump's agenda - beyond building walls, repatriating jobs, repealing or reforming Obamacare and recalibrating relations with Russia. These slogans may prove to have been the backbones of real substance but I very much doubt it. Whilst the new President's late night tweets have become something of a trademark, they tell us more about his personal prejudices than his policy agenda. For that, we will have to wait for his State of the Union address, on 21st February, and his first one hundred days.

A few clues to the type of president Trump will be can be gleaned from his new Cabinet. Made up mostly of business people, retired generals, Republican Party staffers and donors, the most interesting appointments give an insight into what the new administration will feel like.

The new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, former Exxon CEO, tells us something about the new Whitehouse's warmth towards Russia and coolness on climate change. General James Mattis, the new US Secretary of Defense, became known as "Mad Dog" for his Marine Corps leadership during the Battle of Falluja in 2004, one of the most bloody battles of the entire bloody war. And even the new head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon, co-founder of the World Wrestling federation, has appeared numerous times on television trading blows in the ring. If politics is show business for ugly people, Trump's cabinet is serious business for significant people.

Amongst the professional politicians who have made it to the Cabinet are two former rivals of Trump himself: Ben Carson, retired surgeon and former presidential candidate, now Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, was amongst the first 2016 Republican potential candidates to criticise Trump. Perhaps demonstrating the significant sense of humour, he is reported to have, Trump has made Perry Secretary of Energy - a department Rick Perry said should be abolished in 2011!

It is easy to view President Trump - after all the allegations, revelations and provocations during the campaign - and compare him unfavourably to his charming and charismatic predecessor. But to do so is to pre-judge the President. Whether we like it or not, Washington DC is now Trump Town.

These are early days. Donald Trump has a serious job to do and we should wish him well in doing it - if only for selfish reasons. Personally, I wanted Hillary to win but that was not to be. It will take time for us all to adapt to the new President and his way of working. But now, like President Obama said at his final press conference, we should be optimistic: "we're going to be OK".