On Friday morning, Donald Trump was in a buoyant mood. The G.D.P. numbers had just been released, and economic growth came in at an annualized rate of 4.1 percent for the second quarter, up from 2.2 percent for the first quarter. Sure, the uptick was widely expected by economists due to “a confluence of events unlikely to recur,” such as a surge in exports driven by overseas buyers stocking up on U.S. goods before tariffs went into effect (soybean exports were up 50 percent year-over-year in May). And yes, experts expect the explosive growth to slow down for the second half of 2018. And yeah, the news that business investments in equipment were at their slowest pace since late 2016—even after the giant corporate tax cut—wasn’t great. Nor was the data about the housing sector—which The New York Times notes “has often served as an economic bellwether”—in which residential investment was down for the second time in a row. But nuance is not really this president’s thing. And he was just so amped about the 4.1 percent that he decided an impromptu “press conference” was in order. And by press conference, we mean alternative-fact riddled speech in which he took no questions lest any reporters push back on his many misleading statements, which included but were not limited to:
Telling the crowd “We’ve accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions,” leaving out the fact that the economy has gained jobs every month since late 2010 when you-know-who was in office;
Boldly stating that it’s “unthinkable” that his administration has created 3.7 million jobs in the first 17 months of his tenure, despite the fact that Obama created 3.84 million in the last 17 months of his presidency;
Claiming that $4 trillion in profits will be repatriated thanks to last year’s tax cuts, when experts have said there have been zero estimates above $3.1 trillion;
And our personal favorite, the part where he said that half the people assembled for his “incoherent” speech in Illinois last night were shedding tears of gratitude for everything he’s done for them:
Trotting out his Council of Economic Advisers chairman, Kevin Hassett, to say this: “You know, as an economist, it’s my duty, sir, to remind that we should not make too much of one number, right? How often do we hear economists say that? But when I think back to the first time I met with you in the Oval, and we talked about your vision about how to make America great again, you might recall that, in the end, I agreed, yeah, that stuff really ought to work.”Yes, the plight of the common man really gets Trump going!
The president proceeded to whine about how “nobody mentions the fact that these [steel] plants are creating tremendous numbers of jobs—tremendous.” (In fact, the boost to the steel industry has come at the expense of just about everyone else, including the countless American industries that need steel and aluminum to make their own products, which are now more expensive—but we digress.) He whined about how nobody mentions the “billions of dollars” that are supposedly “pouring into the United State coffers,” or—and this is truly the best part—that the United States is winning “respect” abroad because of the tariffs.
Perhaps Trump has an alternative definition of respect. To most political observers, Trump’s tariffs have caused countries around the world—including our biggest allies—to come to the conclusion that the president of the United States is a simpleminded loose cannon who they can’t trust. His tariffs have hit farmers who don’t want the White House’s bailout, driven up prices for American consumers, sent U.S. manufacturing overseas, and resulted in job losses across the U.S. But who cares? Praise him, you ingrates! And be quick about it