Donald Trump's Inaugural Speech With Annotations

A former Bush Administration speechwriter annotates Donald Trump's Inaugural address, with insight, edits and some notable corrections

A former Bush speechwriter shows what was missing from the new President’s Inaugural address


BY Elise Jordan


To a former speechwriter, Donald Trump’s Inaugural address evoked a word that’s fairly rare in presidential rhetoric: sad.

I can overlook that the speech was an elementary effort, showing no study of presidential speeches or the workmanship that produces beautiful quotes for posterity.

I can’t overlook that Trump seems determined to steal away any cautious optimism his detractors have about his leadership. On such an important day, did our new president really have to be so vengeful as he unleashed the tone of his administration?

Through remarks more suited for a convention stage, Trump’s divisive rhetoric was an inward-looking hat-tip to his most loyal supporters. He offered the men and women of our country as well as the entire onlooking world reason to doubt any middling hope that he will indeed rise above his nativist, frequently ignorant and often lying campaign-trail posturing.

Wholly absent was the mention of morals or values, but I personally found the glaring absence of the word “freedom” most petrifying. Trump used the term only once and as applicable only to Americans as a reason we should unite.

After years of hearing every prospective Republican presidential candidate, Trump included, bloviate their fealty to Ronald Reagan, I can’t help but wonder what the Gipper would think about how this is coming together — or apart.

In his own first Inaugural address, Reagan lauded “the will and moral courage of free men and women” as the most important defining characteristic of America’s strength and peace.

That’s the message I choose to remember today.


This post was published on Jan. 20

Jordan is a TIME columnist and an NBC News/MSNBC political analyst. She has worked for the Department of State and the National Security Council.

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