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100 daze of Trump: euphoria and nausea on the White House rollercoaster

The Guardian – David Smith in Washington – Sunday 30 April 2017

Photo: Donald Trump is trampling presidential norms at the White House. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP.

The president is a carnival barker, his press secretary a perpetual high-wire act, the White House briefing room a home of truth seen through funhouse mirrors. This, as George W Bush now famously said, is some weird shit.

Sean Spicer was angry. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period,” he almost shouted. Media attempts to “lessen the enthusiasm” for the inauguration were “shameful and wrong”. And today Donald Trump had been at the CIA where he was greeted by a “raucous” crowd “ecstatic” at his election. He delivered a “powerful” message and was given “a five-minute standing ovation”.

And then came the inevitable coda to the tirade. Spicer accused Senate Democrats of blocking the appointment of a new CIA director then berated us: “That’s what you guys should be writing and covering, instead of sowing division about tweets and false narratives.”

The press secretary, wearing an outsized suit, stomped out of the White House briefing room, ignoring a barrage of shouted questions. A journalist sitting next to me mused: “I feel like I’m back at school.” I said: “I feel like I’m back in Zimbabwe,” recalling my visits to Robert Mugabe’s regime when I was the Guardian’s Africa correspondent.

It was the first Saturday evening of a changed world. A day earlier, Barack and Michelle Obama had flown away from Washington by helicopter, leaving us to our fate. Trump had been sworn in as the 45th president and delivered an inaugural address that was like a mouth full of broken glass. “That was some weird shit,” George W Bush, suddenly regarded with nostalgia, reportedly said afterwards.

Trump, the reality TV candidate who trampled electoral norms, proceeded to trample presidential norms just as surely. There were the same bogus assertions, impetuous tweets, petty spats, brazen conflicts of interest, bilious attacks on the press (“the enemy of the people”) and a distinct whiff of authoritarianism. There was also a missile strike ordered over the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve seen”.

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Posted by Teri Perticone


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