Donald Trump spoke in the Rose Garden Friday morning, delivering a combination of prepared remarks and familiar free-association riffs. A number of observers tweeted during the speech that, at one point, the president had suggested that Minneapolis police brutality victim George Floyd was celebrating the morning’s cautiously positive unemployment data in heaven:
The full transcript indicates that this is not quite true. Trump actually suggested that George Floyd is (possibly) in heaven celebrating everything the current administration is doing to encourage America’s recovery from its various ongoing problems (which Trump does not admit to having caused).
Here’s how the speech began:
This is a very big day for our country. It’s affirmation of all the work we’ve been doing, really, for 3½ years. This isn’t just over the last few months. This is for 3½ years.
The “beautiful day,” his remarks went on to imply, was beautiful for several reasons. One was indeed that the jobs report was good: “This is outstanding what’s happened today. Now, they thought the number would be a loss of 9 million jobs. And it was a gain of almost 3 million jobs.” But Trump also said that coronavirus news is trending positively: “I had a meeting yesterday on vaccines. We’re doing incredibly well with that. I think you’re going to have some very positive surprises.” He took credit for not having allowed as many COVID-19 deaths as worst-case forecasts (which, to be clear, calculated how many people would die if no public health precautions were taken at all) predicted: “We closed our country down. We closed it down. We saved possibly 2 million, 2½ million lives.” And he celebrated the increasing openness of public spaces: “We’re going to be back and we’re opening our country. And I hope that the lockdown governors, I don’t know why they continue to lock down. Because if you look at Georgia, if you look at Florida, if you look at South Carolina, if you look at so many different places that have opened up, I don’t want to name all of them, but the ones that are most energetic about opening, they are doing tremendous business.”
The president clarified twice that this success would be jeopardized by electing Democrats: “The only thing that can stop us is bad policy. Frankly, left-wing, bad policy of raising taxes, and Green New Deals and all of the things that you have been writing about long and hard that will stop it like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. And he twice referenced the phrase “renew, rebuild, and recover” in what seemed like an introduction of a new campaign catchphrase. It was basically a campaign speech.
But Trump also tried to take credit for suppressing civil unrest while simultaneously celebrating the cause of Black Lives Matter protesters, which is how the reference to George Floyd worked its way in. Here’s where he segued from falsely implying that he had a role in calling out the Minnesota National Guard into a stilted boilerplate endorsement of “equal justice under the law” into the ad lib about Floyd:
Call in the National Guard, call me. We’ll have so many people, more people than you have to dominate the streets. You can’t let what’s happening happen. It’s called dominate the streets. You can’t let that happen in New York, where they’re breaking into stores and all of the things. And by the way, hurting many small businesses, you can’t let it happen.
Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement, regardless of race, color, gender, or creed, they have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it. 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.” 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’s really what our Constitution requires and it’s what our country is all about.
Taken all together, the president was saying that George Floyd’s noncorporeal being should be impressed by what the Trump administration has achieved, and that those achievements would be threatened by raising taxes and doing Green New Deals [sic].
Thank you for reading this post about how the insane thing that the president of the U.S. said was actually not quite insane in the way it first seemed but actually equally if not more insane in a slightly different way.
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