Well, for better or for worse, for richer but hardly for poorer, it was Trump week.
The dust had hardly settled on Martin Luther King Day when the media went into overdrive in anticipation of inauguration day. I can remember the hype for Obama’s first inauguration, and there were indeed some touching and emotional moments, but I don’t remember such a huge build-up a week out from the big day.
As the media reaction to Obama was overwhelmingly positive, so the reaction to Trump was overwhelmingly negative, and I was surprised by how so many reporters and commentators lost any sense of neutrality or objectivity – check out the start of last Monday’s Pat Kenny Show for example.
The inauguration was quite impressive. The strong faith aspect of the ceremony was largely Christian, with a rabbi’s input as well. There were hymns and blessings, with a gravitas that left one under no illusion but that this was a serious business.
Last Saturday’s prayer event at the National Cathedral was more religiously diverse. I’m not a great fan of pomp and ceremony, but there seems to be something in human nature that craves it, for the events we consider important. Trump’s inauguration speech was a hit-and-miss affair after a promising start, though I wouldn’t go along with one commentator’s description of Trump’s speech as ‘terrifying’. What?
On the Pat Kenny Show last Thursday morning, author Michael Chabon typified the most extreme of the anti-Trump community (I consider myself one of the moderates!). He said Trump “did not legitimately win the election”, and when Kenny pointed out that he won under the electoral college system in place, Chabon said “the rules may be the rules but the rules don’t necessarily mean anything”. And this guy is a Pulitzer Prize winner. A toys-out-of-pram moment!
Then there was a woman interviewed on the same show last Friday morning, who was crying at the thought of Trump’s inauguration: “We’ve lost our country”, she wailed.
A less distraught woman declared she was donating more to Planned Parenthood and that “we’ll have to go to Canada for our abortions”.
On Friday’s News coverage we saw some of the most extreme protestors burning cars and smashing shop windows. On BBC’s Newsnight that evening a wired guy in a Trump mask was crazily abusive to a bunch of ‘bikers for Trump’.
On the same show there were the anti-Trump protestors who were giving out free marijuana, wanting it legalised. ‘Make American Stoned Again’ I suppose.
Back on Newstalk’s Drive programme Sarah McInerney was puzzled by at least one aspect of the speech, where Trump declared he was giving power back from Washington to the people – more like to white millionaires, suggested McInerney, as she reflected on who he was appointing to prominent positions.
Speaking of which, the media over here gave little attention to the Senate confirmation hearings, but I thought they were one of the most fascinating aspects of the week.
On CNN I watched Sen. Elizabeth Warren tearing into Betsy deVos, Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary. She was far from her comfort zone, and came up with one clanger that will haunt her – asked for any reason why schools should have guns, she suggested that in some places it might be to ward off “potential grizzlies”. Promptly that became a hash tag on Twitter.
Sen. Bernie Sanders grilled Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. He was roasted for his vagueness on climate change, though he did accept that some of it was due to human activity.
Somehow, I doubt that after last week there will be any climate change in US political culture. If anything divisions, polarisation and conflict are likely to increase, and last weekend’s spat over the numbers at the inauguration didn’t help.
Predictably the media gave plenty of coverage to the Women’s March against Trump last Saturday, but apart from EWTN’s live coverage I couldn’t find any trace in mainstream media of the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco. That event featured plenty of impressive speakers, including abortion survivor Melissa Ohden, a recent visitor to Ireland, and was inspirational, providing a ‘transfusion of courage’ as one speaker put it.
Now, let’s see if there’s any coverage of this Friday’s Walk for Life in Washington, an event that annually attracts well over half a million people.
Pick of the week
EWTN Saturday, January 28, 9.30pm
A pro-life film with a focus on how the legalisation of abortion in America has affected women, children, and society for over forty years.
RTÉ 1, Sunday, January, 29, 11.00am
A Liturgy to launch National Catholic Schools Week 2017.
QUEST FOR SHAKESPEARE
EWTN, Friday, February, 3, 7pm
The Wisdom of Fools and the Sanity of Manmen – Catholic motives are explored for Shakespeare having written King Lear.