I guess it’s no big deal for the Clinton’s to attend Trump’s coronation; in fact, if I wanted to be honest, I would admit that their non-attendance would cause a bigger stir. After all, when Al Gore had the presidency stolen from him in 2000, he attended George W. Bush’s inaugural two months later. It’s protocol.
—But so is ending the campaigning once the election is over, and dispensing with personal and political insults for the current president.
—So is waiting until the inauguration to begin dealing with foreign leaders and making domestic decisions.
—So is being gracious towards the defeated opponent in a way that transcends simple lip service (“The Clintons are good people”—Trump) and dissuades his rally yahoos from continuing to suggest that said opponent be hanged or imprisoned.
The Clintons owe Trump nothing but disdain, and their reason for attending—to show a peaceful transition of power—is ludicrous. The Clintons have no power: only the sitting president has any of that, and when he transfers it, it’s transferred.
The cynic in me says that Hillary Clinton understands that more Americans voted for her than for her opponent and feels that her appearance at the ceremony will detract from his. Doubt it.
The decent American in me says that if she promised him support, then this is when she must provide it. Maybe.
But the Game of Thrones follower in me says she should scream “Shame! Shame!” all the way through the ceremony until the CIA drags her away…or doesn’t because they’re already fed up with Trump’s insults.
If any one of those events occurs, it will be without my knowledge, for no protocol requires my being there or my viewing. (I expect movie theaters to do well that afternoon. And bars.)
Jimmy Carter will attend—he’s a better man than I’ll ever be and probably more gracious and honest than anybody I know. I understand that. And George W. Bush will attend—I find his acceptance as disturbing as the Clintons’, his having been the subject of personal attacks himself—but he understands that there is an honor in being invited. To me it’s like having the Cleveland Indians on the reviewing stand for the Chicago Cubs’ World Series parade. One team will be having a really good time while the other…uh…won’t.
As for what you and I can that day, Times columnist Charles Blow makes a number of suggestions here, any one of which might make the ordeal of January 20 go more smoothly. And there’s always binge watching House of Cards or seeking out All the President’s Men, just to see how life imitates art yet again.
You have two weeks to prepare: the recovery will take longer.