Forget about the honeymoon being over. There won’t be any honeymoon.
If you’re thinking my outburst came because I had a bad reaction to all the sugar in my Froot Loops this morning, that’s always possible. But in this case, I’m merely expressing the dismal reality that Donald Trump will face when he becomes the 45th president of the United States.
Usually, when someone is inaugurated as the new chief executive, he starts out with a bit of goodwill, at least for a few weeks while his administration gets its bearings. That certainly will not be the case here. The truth is that most of the nation dislikes Trump. That is actual fact, not fake news, if you believe the numbers. The Real Clear Politics composite of the latest significant polls shows that the Trumpster’s favorable numbers are in the garbage can, averaging out at nearly 5 percent net negative. In addition, a greater number of voters chose Hillary Rodham Clinton over him; he won because of the national quirk known as the Electoral College.
His dreary personal ratings are a remarkably weak starting point. Even if they’re not enthusiastic, people are usually willing to cut the newbie some slack. Even after George W. Bush required a Supreme Court decision to propel him to office — or, as the Democrats like to say, allowed him to steal the election — Bush began his term if not with wild enthusiasm, then at least with an otherwise clean slate. That won’t happen this time.
Donald Trump’s slate is as unclean as a toxic-waste dump, flooded over with the poison of his campaign, which managed to unleash all the hatred snarling in the U.S., even as the malice he directed at everyone else was giving his followers hope. He ran a campaign of anger, and now faces a wall of resentment as he looks to begin his term.
From the moment he was declared the winner, the platitudes about a smooth transition were being floated; masses of his opponents began talking of resistance and for a few days were taking to the streets. They were sore losers, and they promise to continue to be. Every move the new administration makes will be viewed with suspicion. While everyone agrees on only one thing — that change in our system is needed — millions of Trump’s fellow citizens believe to their core that Donald Trump represents a change for the worse.
A widely popular question that exploded among the masses who were stunned, then horrified that he had won was: “What is going to happen now?” It reflects a great apprehension that this wild man with so little in his mind but a showman’s flair is going to inflict great harm through malice or disastrous and simple-minded blunders. In spite of subsequent efforts to gloss over his continuing impetuousness, his compulsive tweeting and some strikingly terrible appointments have reinforced the hard feelings that show no sign of softening.
The national mood is hostility. Critics of Trump are showered with vicious invective on social media. Meanwhile, as a demonstration of how alienated his adversaries are, inauguration planners have had trouble finding entertainers to perform at what usually is a national celebration.
This show might be dominated by protest, with people chanting “Not my president!” It will be interesting to watch the face of Barack Obama as Donald Trump takes over. Chances are he will sit stone-faced, hung up as he is on a smooth, gracious transition. Considering how No. 45 has promised to undo so much of what No. 44 accomplished, we can marvel at his self-control as he resumes the role of private citizen Obama.
Honeymoon? Don’t be silly. The opening ceremonies will, at best, mask the nation’s deep rancor as it ventures into 2017’s darkness. Speaking of which: Happy New Year.
Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.