Trump Has Me Pre-Mad
For the first time in my political life, I am pre-mad. Angry over something that will so predictably occur, and upset because I know how I will react.
On January 20th, 2021, President-elect Biden will become President Biden during his inauguration.
However, against a backdrop of a viral surge, it’s unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the service. Given Biden’s resistance to hold mass gatherings or political rallies prior to the election, I doubt there will be encouragement from the Biden administration to pack the D.C. streets.
Trump will likely not be at the Biden Inauguration. Doing so would tacitly acknowledge he lost. It would mean facing failure.
Then, Trump will tweet (or retweet) images of his inaugural crowd vs. Biden’s — and it will anger me.
Trump’s audience fetish is well-documented. Sean Spicer, the first White House Press Secretary, led off his first press briefing with the lie that Trump’s crowd size was the biggest in history. “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, both in person and around the globe,” he said.
But it wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t.
Given satellite imagery, photographs, mass transit data, and other factors, crowd scientists (yes, an actual job) estimate that Trump’s crowd size was between 300,000 and 600,000 people. Bill Clinton’s first inaugural got about 800,000, and Obama’s first inaugural received a record 1.8 million gatherers.
And then there’s the eye test.
It gets even better — The Guardian reported that Trump personally intervened to get a government official to edit the pictures to “make the crowd appear bigger.”
The photographer cropped out empty space “where the crowd ended” for a new set of pictures requested by Trump on the first morning of his presidency, after he was angered by images showing his audience was smaller than Barack Obama’s in 2009.
The detail was revealed in investigative reports released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act by the inspector general of the US interior department. They shed new light on the first self-inflicted crisis of Trump’s presidency, when his White House falsely claimed he had attracted the biggest ever inauguration audience.
The assertion that Trump’s inaugural crowd size was the biggest in history is both false and dumb. False because it’s a lie that can be disproven with facts, and dumb because who even cares how big the crowd was anyway?
Trump’s crowd was smaller than Obama’s. When he realized this, he instructed his press secretary to lie about it anyway, and ordered government officials to photoshop pictures. All for a story no one usually pays attention to or frankly cares about.
With the coronavirus surging, I doubt Biden’s crowd size will be as big as Obama’s was. A cold January afternoon, a contagious virus running rampant, and an almost-eighty-year-old president who had already been in the White House for eight years — not exactly must-see watching.
So Biden will draw a smaller crowd, even though he drew a bigger crowd on Election Day. Trump will tweet some things.
And I’ll get pissed off.