opinion

Trump’s Inaugural Speech: Pitchfork Populism
But will he ‘preserve, protect and defend?’

President Donald J. Trump hugs his family after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts on the West Front of the Capitol, January 20, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The flamethrower has been passed to a new generation, an older generation, bristling with resentments yet faithful to themes of the 2016 campaign.

Donald J. Trump’s inaugural address was one for the ages. For decades to come — no matter how his presidency is remembered — the bluntness of his words on a grey and rainy Friday afternoon will be recalled as a turning point, a fork in the winding road of American democracy.

The Final Dignity of Hillary Clinton
An example for the nation: Time to move forward

Hillary Clinton, seen here at inauguration, shows America again and again that it’s returning from failure that matters, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

I can’t remember how many times in the last three months I have typed “the final indignity of Hillary Clinton.” Even for a woman who has been in the spotlight for decades, she seems to have had more than her fair share.

Had she not run for the Senate as first lady, it’s possible that Clinton’s final indignity would have been her husband’s betrayals, literally in the Oval Office, after she had supported him for years. But after a failed impeachment against him and a New York listening tour for her, “Mrs. Clinton” became “Sen. Clinton” and she was on her way to a political career of her own.

Good Trump, Bad Trump — Who Will Appear at the Inaugural?
No guarantee what president-elect will say Friday

Listening to President-elect Donald Trump’s past speeches gives one the sense of a political leader torn between a good angel on his right shoulder and a malevolent demon on his left, Walter Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No matter how many drafts speechwriter Stephen Miller prepares, no matter how often the president-elect practices with a teleprompter, there is no guarantee what Donald Trump will say on Friday after he takes the oath of office. The man who is about to become the 45th president is too impulsive, too much of a creature of his own id, to be slavishly faithful to the final draft of the inaugural address. 

The majesty of the moment, the hand-on-the-Bible jolt of emotion for this child of Outer-Borough America, could send Trump in unexpected directions. Even an orator who revels in huge rallies, as Trump does, may be surprised — as Bill Clinton was in 1993 — at the way his oratory echoes off the monuments and how indistinct the faces of his audience appear as he gazes down from the heights of the West Front of the Capitol.

Obama and Trump: Two Presidents, Same God
Mixing politics and religion is a longtime tradition

If some faith leaders see the hand of God in Donald Trump’s victory last November, how do they explain President Barack Obama’s two previous, more decisive wins? Mary C. Curtis asks. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

If Franklin Graham did not actually endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, he stepped right up to the line — the one separating church and state. Graham was absolutely giddy post-election, when he gave credit to a force greater than the electorate. The evangelist and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse credited the “God factor” for Trump’s poll-defying win.

You might be seeing a lot of Graham, starting at Friday’s inauguration where he is one of the faith leaders invited to offer a prayer for America’s new president. It marks a resurgence of a familiar name when it comes to mingling politics and religion, and a continuation of a tradition in a country that doesn’t have an official faith but celebrates a National Day of Prayer and seems most comfortable with leaders who praise a higher power.

Trump vs. Lewis: A Question of Character
The difference between being a character — and having it

Georgia Rep. John Lewis stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on Feb. 14, 2015. Lewis was beaten by police on the bridge on "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, during an attempted march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When we think of Rep. John Lewis on a bus, it is as a teenage “Freedom Rider,” putting his own life at risk in order to form a more perfect union. When we think of Donald Trump on a bus, it is as a boorish billionaire, musing about sexually assaulting women.

When we think of Lewis and racial politics, it is in the context of waking America’s conscience to the civil, voting and housing rights denied to citizens because of the color of their skin. When we think of Trump and racial politics, it is in the context of denying housing to citizens based on the color of their skin, fomenting white nationalism and seeking ways to discriminate against Muslims without running afoul of the First Amendment.

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Opinion: Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap
Do policies meant to address big problems aggravate an economic divide?

The incoming Trump administration and lawmakers should anticipate whether new policies will improve or aggravate wealth inequities, Shapiro and Asante-Muhammad write. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

We have a proposition for the incoming Trump administration and the new Congress and it’s not a liberal or a conservative idea. It’s just a call for pragmatism when developing new federal policies over the next four years.

For too long, even when coming together to enact laws to accomplish noble goals, Congress and previous presidents have ignored the unintended effects of “one-size-fits-all” legislation on the racial wealth divide in this country. What seems like a great idea — making college more affordable, for example — can actually feed the divide.

No Sophomore Slump for Marco Rubio
Senator appears to be carving out his own role in Trump’s Washington

With his vote, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio could decide the fate of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For a guy who didn’t want to be in the Senate anymore last year, Florida’s Marco Rubio is certainly making a tall glass of lemonade out of the lemons he got running for president in 2016. With a single hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, Rubio went from being the Republican Most Likely to Miss a Vote, a distinction he earned on his way to losing the GOP nomination, to being the Republican Most Likely to Hold Donald Trump’s Feet to the Fire. It’s a role that holds both risks and immense power. That, for Rubio, could be more important than anything.

The hearing, of course, was to consider the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be Trump’s secretary of State. Although Sen. Jeff Sessions’ hearing to be attorney general was expected to have the most fireworks of the week, the Tillerson hearing went off-track as soon as Rubio began grilling the former Exxon Mobil CEO about the reams of accusations against Russian President Vladimir Putin of widespread corruption and human rights abuses. 

Clicking Through Confirmation Hearing Roulette
Senators seek reassurances from the adults in the Cabinet

There are high hopes for Defense Secretary-designee James Mattis from lawmakers nervous about the president-elect and other Cabinet picks, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Back in the days when remote controls for changing channels were a brag-to-the-neighbors luxury accessory, Mad magazine developed a series of comic features called Television Roulette. They recreated what the dialogue supposedly might sound like if you clicked fast on a Sunday night from, say, Steve Allen to a Drano commercial to Ed Sullivan.

Modern video feeds and the clustering of three Trump Cabinet hearings on Thursday morning allowed you to play a similar game that could be called Confirmation Roulette. At times it went like this:

Keeping America Competitive for Global Investment
Tax and regulatory reform could give U.S. competitive edge

President-elect Donald Trump's expressed frustration with overly burdensome regulations was a hallmark of his campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The recent announcement that Japan-based SoftBank plans to invest $50 billion in the United States and create 50,000 jobs is good news for America’s economic competitiveness, and Washington, D.C. policymakers should take note of it. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States is a powerful gauge of how America is faring internationally. When a global company such as Nestle, Toyota, or Siemens invests here, it is a vote of confidence in America’s economic strength that translates to employment for millions of American workers.

But multinational companies have unprecedented options for investment. Unfortunately, during the past 15 years, America’s share of the world’s FDI has shrunk from 37 percent in 2000 to only 22 percent this past year. The United States has forfeited a huge portion of its share in global investment, and our leaders in Washington need to take decisive action to reverse this trend.