Mr. Chief Justice, President Obama, President Clinton, President Bush, Vice President Pence, Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, members of the news media, forgotten Americans:
“Bolshoe spasibo.” (Pause.) That’s “many thanks” in Russian.
Sorry, Kellyanne. Couldn’t help myself. Last one — promise. Gotta have fun. Gotta. Even now. Look at CNN squirming down there . . . (Wait for laughter.)
So who would have thunk it? Not the election, the whole thing: Here we are. This amazing American Family, demonstrating to the world yet again a practice once unimaginable — the peaceful transfer of power.
“What is most important of this grand experiment, the United States?,” George Washington asked a score and two centuries ago. “Not the election of the first president,” he said, “but the election of its second president. The peaceful transition of power is what will separate this country from every other country in the world.”
Today, we celebrate Washington’s vision, with one of Lincoln’s favorite words snuck in — see how I did that? It’s humbling to be handed such awesome responsibility — such sacred responsibility — and I solemnly pledge to execute it with passion, love-for-country and forbearance. Yes, even forbearance.
It means a great deal that Hillary Clinton is here to be part of this. Hillary please stand. Take a bow. Thank you for all your service and grace. You’re a class act. Everyone who ran for president in 2016 deserves a hand. (Wait for applause.)
I know the 2016 election was rough for everyone — it wasn’t all roses for me either, believe me! — but we’re not in 2016 anymore. This is 2017. A new year. A new day. A new era for a great nation. Time to bury the hatchet.
Some of you may think you don’t like me. But trust me; you’re going to love me. You may not admit it, but give it time; you’re going to be shocked. Because for the next four years I’m going to put America first. I’m going to look out for our interests — for your interests — no matter what color you are; whether you’re straight or gay; male or female; Jewish, Christian or Muslim. As long as you’re an American, I’ve got your back.
A hundred years ago on these steps, in his second inaugural, President Woodrow Wilson spoke these words: “We are provincials no longer . . . The tragic events [of World War I] . . . have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back.”
Wilson was right in a sense. But we’ve gone too far. There has to be balance. Yes, America is powerful; yes, America is a world leader; yes, America is a beacon light of freedom — it will stay all those things. But first America is a nation of people and laws here at home — of citizens with a God-given right to work hard, keep most of what they earn and make their own decisions. Somewhere along the line our leaders forgot that. They turned what our forefathers designed into a government that looks out for itself, for the rich and powerful and for foreign interests before ours.
That ends today.
If I’m not always politically correct, sorry. You’re going to have to deal with it. My administration is going to do everything it can to keep us safe. If that hurts someone’s feelings, so be it.
We’re going to protect and grow American jobs. If that means embarrassing U.S. companies moving plants to Mexico or China, so be it.
We’re going to secure our borders. If that means protests outside the White House, so be it. If it means me being called names by the media elites, I’ll live with it.
You know why? Because I love my country. I love this country more than anything, but there are tough things that have to be done to get it back on track. Who else was going to do them?
Melania and I had a great life going. Great kids, a great business. I have the greatest health of anyone my age, very possibly. But I couldn’t watch America take another step back. And so, as I promised 18 months ago in New York City, I stand here today as your president.
Make me the heavy — call me the boogeyman — but let me do what needs to be done. Give me four years, and watch America make itself great again.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.