Who else but Donald Trump could turn an inauguration into a version of Black Friday?
For weeks, he and his aides had promised us an inaugural speech for all Americans, a binding of wounds, a plea for unity.
But this was Donald Trump, and this was his Black Friday. And Black Friday is never about unity. It's about the power of misdirection, brute force, and selfishness.
So what's he selling?
His inaugural address promised real Americans wealth, safety, and greatness.
But who are those real Americans? The speech finally made it clear. Real Americans are the people who voted for Trump.
The power of Trump's address was not in what he said, but in what he stopped short of saying. A manufacturer and mass-marketer of emotion, Trump is effortless in leading his followers to fill in the blanks, hear his dog-whistles as loud and clear as if he'd spelled it out for them.
Almost as if he'd said exactly what he meant.
He conducts his followers to finish his sentences, then punctuate his planned silences with adoring ovations. As in:
TRUMP: 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 people.
UNSPOKEN UNDERSTANDING: The people who voted for me.
TRUMP: This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.
UNSPOKEN UNDERSTANDING: This is not the country of residents of crumbling inner cities, who are welfare cheats and rioting, police-hating. This is not the country of Muslims, Hispanics, the disabled, women in general, supporters of Hillary Clinton in particular. Or, for that matter, of Hillary Clinton.
TRUMP: Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.
UNSPOKEN UNDERSTANDING: Everyone is listening to me now. Because they have to. That means everyone I listening to you now. Because you're on my good side. And God Almighty help those other people, because they're not.
TRUMP: For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth...
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
UNSPOKEN UNDERSTANDING: Every single former U.S. president whom you see before you, of either party, every single senator and representative – of either party – every one of them turned this country into carnage, catastrophe, disaster. They are all worthless sacks of But you – you who had the discernment to vote for me when the majority would not – you have discernment to see that only one man can make this into the whitebread paradise you thought you'd lost forever to these dark hordes, led by subwhite Husseins like . well, you can fill in the blanks.
TRUMP: At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
UNSPOKEN UNDERSTANDING: When you open your heart to Trumpism, there's no room for minorities, refugees, dissidents, and the press – Fox News and Breitbart excepted.
This was Black Friday, January 20, 2017, and the bargains were all taken before the public was allowed in. Trump had let his base and his donors come into his place of business first.
He's betting that it's not unity that they're in the market for.
He knew that, rather than work to bring Americans together, much of his base would like to see him slash rights. Rights to health care, to abortion, to voting, to immigration, to public education, to the LGBT community.
Nothing on this Black Friday led them to expect anything else.
TRUMP: The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
UNSPOKEN ADMONISHMENT: Shut up and clap.
TRUMP: There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.
UNSPOKEN TRANSLATION: There should be fear.
On Saturday, the women of America and around the world, supported by men, will be hitting the streets in hundreds of cities to give Donald Trump the answer for which he expressly did not ask.
Please join them, if you can.
In any case, healing, in these United States, may have to wait for another inauguration. A future January 20. A different president.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now