It’s Trump’s America now. We just live here.
Sorting out the facts from the “alternative facts.” Checking random Twitter glances inside the new president’s head. Coming to grips with the urgent, national issue that America’s new leader has chosen to launch his presidency on.
Facts may not matter so much in Donald Trump’s America, but size definitely does.
The man who dissed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Apprentice” ratings, the man who swore his own fingers (and other body parts) were large—that guy was back again, boasting about the public turnout for his Inauguration.
He took the oath of office at noon on Friday in front of a perfectly nice Washington crowd. Not a record-breaking crowd. Not the biggest crowd of all time. A nice, middling crowd. But in Trump’s America, no supportive crowd is anything but massive. And there’s no one-day story that can’t be stretched into three. This one still has a few hours to go.
He could have used Day One, as he had promised to, building a wall, banning Muslims, imposing heavy tariffs, locking up Hillary or repealing Obamacare. Instead, egged on by the truly huge turnout for the women’s marches in Washington, New York, Boston, Philly and around the world, he obsessed on crowd size instead.
Speaking to CIA officers and returning to Twitter he made his opening salvo. “We had something like a million and a half people come,” he boasted to the spies. “It went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”
Actually, no. It didn’t. And it didn’t take a room full of intelligence agents to know that the crowds were far smaller than for several recent inaugurations.
Trump sent top aides out to make the same fact-free case. “This was the largest audience to witness an Inauguration—period,” press secretary Sean Spicer declared at his first White House briefing. Any attempt by the dishonest media to “minimize the enormous support” is “shameful and wrong.”
When Chuck Todd asked about the disconnect on yesterday’s “Meet The Press,” senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway positively bristled. “Don’t be so dramatic about it, Chuck,” she scolded. “Sean Spicer gave alternative facts.”
“Alternative facts!” Todd thundered in what became the most memorable line of the day. “Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.”
Ellis Henican is a seasoned observer of the nation’s political and social landscape. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. He is a former columnist at Newsday.
Orignally published January 23