Without question, the surprisingly positive May jobs report was a tonic for the troops in Donald Trump’s administration, which has had a really, really bad week. But in a presidency notable for a habit of self-congratulation, today marks a new high that it will be hard for even Trump to exceed. During a press conference originally aimed at taking credit for a bill fixing problems with the Paycheck Protection Act, Trump launched into a rambling series of victory claims ranging from the economy to the coronavirus pandemic to the George Floyd protests to the border wall. He described the economic numbers as signaling “the greatest comeback in American history,” and “far better than a V[-shaped recovery]. This is a rocket ship.”
Trump’s conflation of good economic numbers with a claim that protests are abating and African-Americans owe him support will likely get the most attention, particularly this tangent, as reported by Politico:
[T]he president took his promotion of the jobs numbers a step further, describing them as a “tremendous tribute to equality” and, in an extraordinary moment, suggested the data marked a “great day” for George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man whose killing by a Minneapolis police officer has ignited protests across all 50 states.
“We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully, George is looking down right now, and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country,’” Trump said. “This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
It wasn’t clear why Floyd is supposedly sharing Trump’s self-celebration from the Great Beyond, but it’s not going over well:
The gloat-fest over the economy, which will almost certainly undermine efforts in Congress for additional stimulus (though Trump did, almost as an afterthought, mention that possibility at the end of the lengthy presser, along with his support for a dead-on-arrival payroll tax cut), bled over into dangerously optimistic comments about the coronavirus pandemic. He said the country was “largely through” the pandemic and called for a complete end to state and local “lockdowns” that were inhibiting the economy from being even more sensational. The victorious sentiments were echoed by seating arrangements for the Rose Garden presser, with social distancing in media seating all but abandoned, as CNN reports:
Visually it was back to business almost as normal, pre-pandemic, without social distancing, despite ongoing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control to take precautions.
The president seemed to like what he saw.
“You’re getting closer together, even you, I noticed,” Trump remarked to reporters. “I noticed you’re starting to get much closer together. Looks much better.”
You have to assume Trump thinks his “transitioning to greatness” reelection message is back on track, as he described his greatest-economy-in-the-history-of-the-planet, interrupted by the “Chinese plague,” quickly roaring back, with the only clouds remaining in the blue skies ahead being Sleepy Joe Biden and his horde of job-killing, lockdown-obsessed, radical-left Democrats.
He also sought to tie the apparent upturn in economic activity to his own electoral fortunes, suggesting without evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden, his prospective Democratic general election opponent, would wipe out whatever gains had been achieved as a result of the country’s gradual reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The only thing that will protect this president from a terrible backlash if this moment of (exaggerated) good news does not persist is the general understanding that he always wallows in self-praise and is never completely held accountable for incoherence and inconsistency. But for today, he’s louder and prouder than ever.