Presidential Historian: Trump’s Speech a 'Direct Indictment of Obama & Status Quo'

Barbara Hollingsworth | January 20, 2017 | 2:39pm EST
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President Donald Trump delivering his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 2017. (CNN screenshot)


( – Presidential historian Craig Shirley characterized President Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address as “a direct indictment of [President] Obama and the status quo” and “a declaration of war” against the Washington establishment.

In the 16-minute speech Trump delivered on Friday after he was sworn-in as the nation’s 45th president, he said that his inauguration was “not merely the transfer of power from one administration to another, and from one party to another.

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“We are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people,” Trump told hundreds of thousands of supporters attending his swearing-in ceremony on the west front of the U.S. Capitol. 

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Trump vowed.

The new president also assured the nation that the U.S. “will be protected by God” in the days ahead as “a new national pride” allows Americans “to heal our divisions”.

“Trump’s speech blended FDR’s Forgotten Man, [Ronald] Reagan’s conservatism, [Andrew] Jackson’s populism and [Charles] Lindberg’s America First,” said Shirley, a biographer of former President Ronald Reagan. “But there was also a generous helping of compassion. It was a direct indictment of Obama and the status quo.

Presidential historian and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley.

"Invoking God was significant as was the uplifting nature of the end of his speech. It was a declaration of war against Washington and the status quo as surely as the colonies made against the British Empire. However, this war will be fought with ideas and passion. 

"There were few memorable phrases [in the speech], but the battle has been enjoined,” Shirley added. 

Conservative leaders also praised Trump’s speech for sending a clear message to the average American.

“Donald Trump once again spoke to Americans who don't populate the corridors of power and made a solemn promise in clear, everyday words: ‘ I've got your back’,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, told

 “All the pieces woven together made a very strong speech,” agreed Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

“The important thing is that you don’t see him moving away from the themes that brought him to this point, which we’ve seen so often in the past,” Perkins told CNSNews. “He showed he was not equivocating. He promised to do what he said he would do.”

“It was a very pro-America, pro-little guy speech and a very effective speech for those who put Trump in office,” said Twila Brase, president and co-founder of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, which is urging Congress to completely repeal Obamacare. 

“It was very focused on the average American, not the elites or politicians. He basically ignored all those elite folks sitting behind him. It was for people who really want the country to turn 180 degrees in the other direction.”

“President Donald Trump gave a terrific Inaugural Address,” said Joseph Bast, president and CEO of the Illinois-based Heartland Institute.

“His willingness to speak without apology about America’s special place in the world and national pride was a welcome departure from eight years of subtle (and often not so subtle) criticism and cynicism from the nation’s highest public office.

Trump is changing the tone and substance of the national debate over public policy, and it is a change that is long overdue.

“Trump’s repeated promise to put the interests of Americans first sounded odd, to me and probably to many people listening to this address, because it is so rarely heard from our national elected leaders. But this promise was central to Trump’s appeal as a candidate, and it ought to be central to the beliefs and plans of all elected officials,” Bast continued.

“That it sounded strange coming from a president is only testimony to how far the nation’s elected officials, from both major parties, have strayed from the views of the Founding Fathers and the language of the Constitution of the United States.

“So too, Trump’s repeated references to God and his statement that Americans are ‘protected by God’. Such a claim is politically incorrect, as the globalists and ‘citizens of the world’ among us say it implies that God does not also look over the well-being of the citizens of other countries. One suspects their real objection is to the explicit assertion that God exists and pays attention to His creation. Good for Trump for saying out loud what millions of Americans believe and need to hear.”

Bast added that Trump “spoke to those who rightly resent the arrogance of President Obama and his sycophants in the mainstream media and elsewhere, who pretend to know better than teachers and parents what should be taught in the nation’s schools, better than patients what kind of health care they need and can choose, better than judges what is constitutional, and even better than scientists what is the truth behind complex issues such as climate change.

“Whether Donald Trump will be a good president remains to be seen, but this Inaugural Address (like his appointments to his Cabinet) is a very good sign of what lies ahead,” Bast said.

“For too long, D.C. has believed that ‘We the People’ exist to serve the government.  This has been especially true over the last eight years. Today, President Trump spoke to the forgotten men and women of this country and promised a ‘new vision’. He promised a government that exists to serve its citizens and swears to put America first,” Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance, told

 “I was in the Salt Lake City airport as he took the oath of office and loud cheers could be heard throughout the airport from groups gathered around television monitors,” Meckler added.  “It is a new day. May God bless America.”

“President Trump received tens of millions of votes from Americans of all backgrounds, from all walks of life and every corner of this country, because he presented a vision of our nation that contrasted greatly with the disappointments and failures of the last eight years,” Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said in a statement.

“Americans elected Trump because they sincerely believe he is the right leader to ‘Make America Great Again’ and he will do this by putting the interests of our country and its citizens first. We look forward to the opportunity to work with President Trump and the Republican majorities in Congress to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a new system that prioritizes freedom over government control, secure our borders, reduce the size and scope of government while balancing our budget, and enacting an ‘America First’ trade policy.”

 But others voiced disappointment with the tone and content of Trump’s first speech as president.

“It started with a darker tone than typical Inaugural Addresses,” said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, a group dedicated to limited government and free markets.“Trump restated his major campaign themes, and it was an effective speech for his supporters,” Kerpen added, noting that “he has a lot of opportunity to do positive things.”

“It was certainly vintage Trump,” Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told CNSNews. “It sounded more like a campaign speech, and did not take the high road. But he certainly spoke to Americans who have been forgotten.”

“President Trump was right when he said that families across the country have been suffering while the nation’s capital has been celebrating, but I have to hope his speech does not signal all of his priorities for fixing the problems,” Jonathan Bydlak, founder and president of the Coaltion to Reduce Spending, told CNSNews.

 “While his calls to reform education and overseas spending were as encouraging as recent reports of his plan for ‘dramatic cuts’, it was unsettling to hear the President largely avoid mentioning fiscal responsibility and promise massive infrastructure spending,” Bydlak said.

“His speech was inspiring, but let’s hope real solutions follow.” 

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