Kathy Sheridan: Wobbly anthems, wobbly heels and talk of ‘teary’ Trump
TV coverage provided it all: Melania’s heels, all-white daughters and a question for Hillary
“It’s definitely a poncho situation kind of day,” says Brooke from CNN. “No full delooge just yet”. Chilly though. Definitely chilly. The crowd looks low, homogenous and damp. Kate, who got the short straw, is trying to drum up atmosphere way down the Mall, in the non-ticket holders’ section. “The atmosphere is much like a Trump rally,” she says.
Interestingly, Washington Metro has gone to the trouble of comparing inauguration day metro trips. As of 11am on Trump’s big day, 193,000 trips had been taken. For Obama’s in 2009, the corresponding figure was 513,000. For the television channels being relentlessly upbeat, it’s a tough one.
So we can confirm that Melania is wearing Ralph Lauren, “channelling the Jackie Kennedy vibe” and with heels “so HIGH”, gasps a male panellist. (Shots of her virtually goose-stepping off a military plane the night before suggest a lower heel might be safer but hey, we know that Donald is a demon for women’s freedom of choice).
Will the lesser-known designers among her choices win them a boost or a backlash, someone wonders. And will Ivanka, now the most influential First Daughter in history, cease to be a walking, talking advertisement for her own brand?
No one wonders if soon-to-be-POTUS requires nightly surgery to separate him from his yuge, flapping overcoat and super-long, super-wide red tie, in which he resembles a gurning mafioso as he descends the stairs to the platform. Oh wait. Hot scoop: a source confides that PEOTUS was “a bit teary-eyed” leaving the morning’s prayer service. That must mean “the magnitude of the moment is sinking in”. Well, that’s a relief.
Oh look, there’s Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s other main woman. It’s her 50th birthday and she’s all decked out in festive red, white and blue. And there’s old Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, being escorted to a prime seat, getting his money’s worth, thank you, for the $125 million election support.
Wonder what the Trumps and Obamas are talking about on the traditional, shared limo ride from the White House to the Capitol, says someone who says he’d love to be a fly on the wall? On similar limo rides down the years, the campaign-soured occupants just ignored one another, apparently.
An authoritative voice offers the information that Team Trump feels it has not been given the “deference” due to a PEOTUS teams. This, after all, is the week when campaign sourness is usually set aside, he says, but that hasn’t happened “in the fullness it normally does”. What with the “rawness and the boycotts”, this, without a doubt, it is one of the challenges facing Donald Trump.
Maybe it’s the poncho situation kind of day or the enforced chatter designed to fill in the longueurs between set pieces, but for all the talk about the majesty, the ceremonial, the miraculous, uniquely American transition of power (as though such transitions happen nowhere else in the world), it’s beginning to feel a lot like a several-hundred-million-dollar soap opera.
Elsewhere, Hillary Clinton, just an “observer” at this extravaganza, looks taken aback to find media so close as she steps from a car. Her face seems set in concrete, which is probably an appropriate response to the “How are you feeling?” shouts on the day that’s in it and the sight of two men who denied her the presidency heading offin a shared limo, one of whom joined in chants of “lock her up”.
Someone says she is wearing all-white because it’s the colour of the suffragette movement. Sigh. But it fails to explain Ivanka’s all-white choice, or even Tiffany’s, forever to be known as “the younger sister”, with the Princess Margaret vibe.
It seems apt that a singer who came second as a 10-year-old in America’s Got Talent sings a wobbly national anthem in the rain. The female pastor who begins her few words on the platform with an exceptionally emphatic “In the name of JESUS” seems to be reading our hearts.
“Together we will determine the course of America and all of the world for many, many years to come . . .” asserts the new president reassuringly, before Barack and Michelle Obama climb aboard a military helicopter, last seen doing a pass around the White House and a loop over the Washington Monument. Cue loud sobbing.