I helped President Donald Trump with his Inaugural Address. I did. That’s a fact. An alternative fact.
One day last week, Donald and I sat down at his tower in New York to go over the draft. I can’t remember all that we said, but my side of the conversation went something like this:
OK. Chief Justice Roberts, former presidents, fellow Americans — that’s all good. Not sure about the wording, “people of the world.” It sounds as if you think you’re addressing everyone on the planet, and that what you are about to say is the most important thing anyone has ever said. Oh. You do think that. OK. Moving on then.
This is very good here, about the peaceful transfer of power. People will feel reassured by that. And you thank the Obamas. Very good stuff. “However, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another.” We are not? I thought we were.
So what are we doing? I see. Here it is. We are “transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people. Everyone is listening to you now.”
That is great, sir, really great. So if we are giving government back to the people, how about adding something to encourage Americans to keep in touch with you and with their congressional representatives, about what they do and do not want?
We could add a statement acknowledging the protests, how that’s an example of what you’re talking about, the people making their voices heard. What do you think? No? Well, yes, it’s your speech.
Great schools, safe neighborhoods, good jobs, just and reasonable demands — no problems there. Then we come to the “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.”
To me, the tombstone image doesn’t really work. Yes, it’s visual. But it isn’t really accurate. And it’s so bleak. It suggests that the country is dead. And that you are some kind of savior, all golden and yellow and shiny and orange, sent by God to bring it back to life. And you don’t mean to imply that. Do you?
You refer to “an education system which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.” I’m not sure the students are actually “deprived of all knowledge.”
That appears to insult all the good teachers and students out there. Blatant exaggerations like this make it sound as if you’re either lying or — excuse the expression — insane. But yes, you’re the boss.
We need to look at the sentence, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” It sounds as if you’re going to perform some type of miracle, wave a magic wand or something. Instead of making vague, grandiose promises to somehow magically fix things, why don’t you include some specific — sir, can you stop tweeting now and focus on the speech?
“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” I’m sorry, sir, but this is just nonsense. I know people who consider themselves very patriotic, and yet they have plenty of room left over for prejudice. Can I just delete this statement? No? Ivanka is developing a line of jewelry with this engraved on it? Great.
Next paragraph. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. I love that. It’s positive. It’s inclusive. Maybe we could just tighten it up. Something like, “We’re stronger together”?
So you want to move through the rest of this quickly? Fine with me. I’m getting a terrific headache for some reason. OK, the military, law enforcement, protected by God, America first, new millennium, technologies of tomorrow, national pride, healing divisions, blood of patriots, glorious freedoms, American flag, sprawl of Detroit, windswept plains of Nebraska, make America great again, God bless America.
You don’t really want to change any of that, do you? I thought not. Got it. Keep it short and simplistic. Good versus bad, us versus them, you versus anybody who questions you. Drama trumps accuracy. Narrative trumps facts. Emotion trumps reason.
I’ll just go now. No, please don’t hug me. Stay over there. Just mail me my check.
Anne Shelby, a writer and storyteller, lives in Clay County.