AUSTIN (KXAN) – Donald Trump set the tone for his presidency just moments after taking the oath of office. The vision he laid out in his inaugural address brought both cheers and condemnation, with the difference falling largely along political lines.
“To me it sounded like two people wrote the speech,” mused Democratic political strategist Harold Cook. He noted how the President sent a unifying message in some passages, but also returned to the divisive tone of his campaign speeches. “I think most people came away from that pretty much like I did,” Cook concluded. “Hoping for the best, fearing for worse than that, and maybe the truth ultimately comes out somewhere in the middle.”
James Dickey had a more optimistic take. The Travis County Republican Party Chairman pointed to how President Trump ended the address. “He said, truthfully, there is nothing we can’t do if we do work together,” Dickey said. “Those were inspiring, optimistic, hopeful things, and I do hope he does it.”
Cook and Dickey discussed the inauguration on KXAN’s State of Texas political program. While many focus on the deep political divide, Cook sees one relationship as a potential for ending the gridlock in Washington. New York Senator Chuck Schumer is the new Senate Minority Leader. He and Donald Trump have a working relationship that dates back decades. Schumer was the only Democrat to speak at Mr. Trump’s inauguration. “I would like to think we could return to the days of Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan,” posed Cook, “where they might bash each other’s brains in all day long, but they’d meet for a drink at night and they’d cut the deal and things would move forward.”
Rick Perry’s nomination for Energy Secretary seems more likely to move forward after his performance at a Senate committee hearing. “I think they left there personally liking Rick Perry,” Cook said. “Love him or hate him, he gets along with people, and that’s part of the job.”
Perry has been criticized for lacking the science background of previous Energy Secretaries. During the hearing, Perry instead touted his experience as Texas Governor managing large organizations and big budgets. “There are tons of responsibilities for the secretary of any cabinet position that have nothing to do with the actual expertise carried out by the people who staff that department,” Dickey said. “So that whole line of argument just really has no basis,” he concluded.