In a cold, sombre, damp Washington four years ago this Wednesday, Donald Trump took the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States and delivered an inaugural address now remembered for two words: American carnage.
He delivered, but not as he promised. Trump pledged to end the carnage of inner-city poverty, rusting factories, broken schools and the scourge of criminal gangs and drugs. Instead his presidency visited upon the nation the carnage of about 400,000 coronavirus deaths, the worst year for jobs since the second world war and the biggest stress test for American democracy since the civil war.
“It’s not just physical carnage,” said Moe Vela, a former White House official. “There’s also mental carnage and there’s spiritual carnage and there’s emotional carnage. He has left a very wide swath of American carnage and that is the last way I would want to be remembered by history, but that is how he will be remembered.”