Elections

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.

Ryan Still Doesn't Want to Run for President
Speaker says ‘the left’ is trying to delegitimize Trump’s presidency before it starts

Speaker Paul D. Ryan insists he still does not want to run for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has been asked hundreds, if not thousands, of times if he wants to run for president one day. The answer has not changed. 

“No,” Ryan said in an interview with Charlie Rose scheduled to air on PBS late Thursday. “It’s just not an ambition that I’ve long harbored, or I’ve harbored.” 

Trump Administration’s First (Unofficial) Day in Washington
Spokesman clashes with Schumer; press credentials get you to nowhere

Several temporary toilets placed on Capitol grounds for the Inauguration have been labeled “Trump’s Tower” with a marker. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Inauguration Day is Friday but the Trump administration’s first official day in Washington was Thursday, as the incoming team clashed with Senate Democrats over its Cabinet nominations.

“There is no excuse,” White House Press Secretary-designee Sean Spicer said, for what he dubbed “delay tactics” by Senate Democrats on some of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections. Spicer was in mid-administration form as he added that the Democrats’ tactics “call into question” whether they want a “government of continuity.”

Celebrating the Inauguration
Many began planning before November, while for others, it was more recent

Singer Katy Perry at President Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013. What celebrities will be in D.C. this year? (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Long before the election results were in, state societies and organizations in Washington were planning their ways to celebrate the inauguration.

And with inauguration 2017 drawing people from around the country — and the world — groups are putting on events that bring them all together.

Obama Writes Thank You Note
Says ‘I’ll be right with you every step of the way’

First lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Jill Biden pause to pay their respects at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in the Capitol rotunda as they leave the 2013 Inaugural Luncheon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Barack Obama wrote a final thank you note on Thursday as he prepares to turn the Oval Office over to President-elect Donald Trump.

Obama wrote the message ahead of writing his note to Trump that is customary of outgoing presidents.

Counter Parties in D.C. Surrounding the Inauguration
What to do this week if you’re not fired up about Trump’s election

Capitol staffers cheered from balconies as hundreds of Washington, D.C.,-area high school students march to protest the election of Donald Trump in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As workers toil to return the National Mall and its surroundings to its pre-inaugural state, a crowd estimated in the hundreds of thousands is expected to gather on Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington.

And that’s not the only event around Washington this week for venting negative feelings toward the Trump presidency.

Warmer Day? Get Ready for a Longer Inauguration
Inaugural addresses have generally run longer when it’s been warmer outside

Tiffanie Davis, 18, lays with her friends from Howard University while trying to stay warm during the wait for the 2009 inauguration. (Philip Andrews/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Attendees at presidential inaugurations can, generally, expect a speech fit for the weather.

Looking at midday temperature data for the past 52 years — stretching back to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inaugural address after his election in 1964 — incoming presidents have tended to give shorter speeches when it’s colder outside.

History Provides Trump a Guide for His Inaugural Address
Changes in party rule show how presidents both praise and criticize

An aide to President-elect Donald Trump, seen here at a news conference on Jan. 11 at Trump Tower in New York City, says his inaugural address will be “unique to him.” (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Newly sworn-in American presidents taking over for a predecessor of another political party have employed a number of rhetorical approaches from which Donald Trump could choose to borrow on Friday. Trump has met with historians and watched past inaugural addresses, but a top aide said his first speech as president will be “unique to him.”

Given the unprecedented tone of both his campaigning style and brash tenor during the transition period, anything is possible when the new president steps to the podium bearing the seal of the president around noon Friday. It is a safe bet some or most of Trump’s address will sound much different than those delivered in the past. 

A Ceremony of Stability for a Shake-It-Up President
Inaugurals are meant to unify the nation, a fundamental Trump challenge

Since his election, President-elect Donald Trump has not backed away from his headline-grabbing approach of responding to every perceived slight with a combative brickbat, Hawkings writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

No ritual embodies the stability of the American government more than an inauguration. And no one in modern times has arrived for the ceremony as a more purposeful destabilizer of governing norms than Donald John Trump, who becomes the 45th president of the United States on Friday.

The inaugural is this country’s ultimate civic rite, designed to assure the orderly transfer of enormous power, bolster patriotism and bind together a diverse people behind their new leader. The pageantry of the day, in so many ways fundamentally unchanged since the 18th century, almost cannot help but imbue each new holder of the office with similar auras of credibility and historic import.

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.