Trump Delivered A Dire, Frightening Speech, Dems Say

Even some Republicans were nonplussed by a brief address that bashed lawmakers.

WASHINGTON 鈥 Many Democratic lawmakers who sat through President Donald Trump鈥檚 inaugural address Friday left feeling like he delivered a grim and frightening message to the world.

While they took note of Trump鈥檚 appeals to unity, their overall impression of the relatively brief 1,433-word speech was that he was talking about a world they do not live in.

鈥淗e described a very dire picture, which I don鈥檛 share,鈥 said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). 鈥淚t was unnecessarily dark, and depressing. Usually a presidential speech is much more uplifting and inspiring.鈥

Trump described America as a place where politicians 鈥渃elebrated in our nation鈥檚 capital, [but] there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.鈥

He repeated his claims of rampant despair and raging crime, pledging, 鈥淭his American carnage stops right here and stops right now,鈥 although crime rates remain at historic lows.

鈥淭here were parts of it that were fine. I just didn鈥檛 realize we were that terrible,鈥 said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

Trump鈥檚 declaration of a theme that should be heard in 鈥渆very foreign capital鈥 鈥 that the new vision of governing was 鈥済oing to be America first鈥 鈥 also rang some alarms.

鈥淭here鈥檚 no way to read that speech without thinking we are about to massively withdraw from the world stage,鈥 said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). 鈥淭hat frightens me, and it will probably be troubling to a lot of leaders around the world.鈥

Even some Republicans were, at least, bemused by the address.

鈥淚t was a little different than most inaugural addresses I鈥檝e heard,鈥 said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who generally approved. 鈥淗e was on the same message he gave throughout the campaign. And you could see he was speaking from his heart.鈥

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has had pointed disagreements with the new commander in chief, declined to say if he approved.

鈥淚t鈥檚 not whether I liked or disliked. It was a continuation of the campaign that won him the presidency,鈥 McCain said, also declining to guess whether Trump鈥檚 inaugural message would heal any divides.

Trump鈥檚 thorough condemnation of the political classes in Washington did not sit well with many lawmakers. Democrats felt he was belittling the efforts of hardworking, well-intentioned people in public service. Some Republicans also seemed bothered.

鈥淭here were a lot of my colleagues sitting around me that were Republicans that were squirming when he painted such a broad brush that anybody who stood up for public service is only self-interested,鈥 said McCaskill.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) appeared visibly bothered when asked about the bashing Trump delivered to dignitaries seated around and behind him. She offered a curt harumph before adding, 鈥淲ell, we clearly have some work to do with him but that鈥檚 what the executive and Congress do. So we begin that today.鈥

Not every lawmaker was bothered by the criticism.

鈥淢y interpretation was, yes, he was pointing fingers behind him. He wants less whining and more activity. Good,鈥 said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who came to Congress in 2010鈥檚 tea party wave.

Scott sounded like he wouldn鈥檛 mind ceding a little power.

鈥淗e鈥檚 talking about putting power back into the hands of the people. If you鈥檙e putting power back into the hands of the people, you got to take it out of somebody else鈥檚 hands,鈥 Scott said. 鈥淥ut of the hands he鈥檚 going to take it is 535 members of Congress.鈥

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) noted the darkness of the speech, but also looked to Trump鈥檚 reaffirmation of rebuilding infrastructure.

鈥淚t鈥檚 going to be an interesting four years,鈥 Tester said.