Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States today. A moment parodied glancingly by The Simpsons in 2000 now becomes reality.
Republican speechwriter Christopher Buckley wrote his own parody of Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address seventeen years ago. Buckley’s speech is probably not as funny as what President Trump will say today (eighty minutes from this writing), but it’s worth comparing:
My fellow Americans,
This is a great day for me personally. You’re very smart to have voted for me because I’m going to do positive things for this country, starting with this mall I’m looking out over.
For starters, I don’t know why this is called a “mall.” Where I come from, New York City— which happens to be the greatest city in the world, and the reason I say that is that I built most of it, and I only build quality, so I think I know what I’m talking about— a mall doesn’t look like this. Where are the shops? I see grass, ponds— and what’s that, an obelisk? This is not Cairo. I don’t know how much the government paid for the Washington Monument— and I have no problem with George Washington, but he wasn’t a businessman— they overpaid. You’ve got a 560-foottall structure sitting on some of the most prime real estate in the country, incredible views, including of my new home. People would pay a lot for a duplex co-op in a building like that. I would charge $ 1,500 to $ 2,000 a square foot, and I’d get it. No wonder this government is trillions in debt.
Everywhere I look I see wasted opportunities, and I’ve only been president for five minutes. At the end of this so-called mall is the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln was an okay president, but I would have freed the slaves, too. And I would have given them something more useful than forty acres and a mule, incidentally. But if you want to make a statement about Lincoln, you could do much better than this. White marble? Columns? This is not Greece. And that statue, he looks like he’s having a difficult bowel movement. This is no way to say thank you for saving the Union. And I know about unions, believe me. Ask around. Don’t try offering them forty acres and a mule. So with respect to Lincoln, I would make a statement: pink marble, gold, mirrors, maybe some hanging gardens, fountains with water coming out the breasts. People love that stuff. A restaurant on the roof that would serve first-rate food, because that’s the only kind of food I’m interested in. Mediocre food does not interest me. You know what people like? Jumbo shrimp. It’s not rocket science.
So what do you think of your new first lady? I picked Moronia— what’s your name, honey? Melania, right. Great name. I just picked Melania here from a very wide selection of possibilities— not just because the sex is incredible but because this nation wants and deserves a trophy first lady. When everyone sees our first lady standing next to some other first lady of another country, the wife of a premier or whatever, they’ll want to go to bed with our first lady, not the other one. So the American people no longer have to worry on that score. And if they get tired of her, not a problem, because chances are I’ll be tired of her before they are. And we’ll get a new first lady. Trying to keep North Korea from getting the bomb, maybe that’s a problem. Finding a new first lady? Trust me, not a problem.
Policy-wise? I’m going to be very hands-on. If a situation comes up, like inflation, or a union beef, or Mike Tyson beats up another motorist, I’m going to be on it. It’s going to be fixed. There was a skating rink in New York City in Central Park. There were problems with it. Then I got involved. Now people can skate on it. Again, it’s not rocket science.
Foreign-policy-wise? Same. I’m a businessman. Other countries want to do business with us, I’m all for it. Trade, great. I have no problems with people trading with us. But it’s going to be fair trade, by which I mean we come out on top. They have a problem with that, they can sell their TVs and cheese and whatever to someone else. Maybe North Korea. It’s just not complicated. Missiles? Very simple— you aim one at us, I fire a hundred at you. So don’t go there. Turning a country into a radioactive parking lot does not bother me. I sleep fine. Ask Melanomia. And finally on the foreign front, I have something to say to Fidel Castro. Adios, pal. This time, we’re going to nationalize your hotels and casinos.
That about covers it. I have to go, because important senators and congressmen are giving me a lavish luncheon in the Rotunda behind me here. I understand they’re serving a lot of jumbo shrimp. Basically they’re trying to impress me so I won’t cancel their highway projects and ethanol subsidies. I know how they do things. Now they’re going to find out how I do things. By the way, I’ve directed the Treasury to issue a couple billion extra in hundred-dollar chips. Enjoy yourselves. This is the dawn of a great, great era [Christopher Buckley, “Trump: The Inaugural,” Wall Street Journal, 2000.10.21].
Replace Fidel with Raul, and Buckley pretty much nailed Day One of President Donald J. Trump.
Now begins the four-year test of how well the world can take the Great American Joke.