To hear Donald Trump tell it this week, things have never been better in America, thanks to him.
At a rally in Evansville, Ind., on Thursday, the president took his latest victory lap, reiterating that the time had already come to update his famous campaign slogan.
“You know our new slogan that we’ll be switching to because we’re way ahead of schedule to ‘Make America Great Again,’ right? It’s called ‘Keep America Great!’ That’s what’s happening. We’re so far ahead of schedule.”
Declaring that the U.S. now has “the best economy in the history of our country,” Trump assured his Hoosier audience that America was “reclaiming our nation’s proud manufacturing history.”
“It’s never been like this,” Trump said of the economy, adding, “We’ve created trillions of dollars in wealth since the election.” As a result, Trump said, “America is respected again,” and the U.S. is now “the talk of the world.”
As evidenced by his boisterous reception, Trump’s assessment is shared by a good percentage of the American public, as the president made sure to point out.
“People come up to me all the time and they go, ‘Thank you, Mr. President.’ Just backstage, right now, people. ‘Thank you, Mr. President for saving our country. Our country was in serious trouble,'” Trump said.
With second quarter GDP growth revised upward this week to an impressive 4.2 percent, Trump had reason to toot his own horn — and Trump isn’t known for modesty. “If we didn’t come along, you would have had instead of 4.2 — you know it was raised yesterday from 4.1 — you would have been in negative numbers,” Trump ad-libbed. “The country was choking with regulations, choking with high taxes; you would have been in negative numbers, and that’s what was happening.”
Not everyone seems to agree it is time to declare “mission accomplished.”
When a protester interrupted Trump’s speech, a campaign volunteer tried to prevent a media photographer from capturing an image of her, only to be caught as the subject of one himself.
For Trump, there is a conspiracy afoot to deny him credit for everything that is going right in the country, and he knows exactly who to blame.
I just cannot state strongly enough how totally dishonest much of the Media is. Truth doesn’t matter to them, they only have their hatred & agenda. This includes fake books, which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources, and are pure fiction. Enemy of the People!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2018
Ironically, this week’s round of blame the media centered on two reporters credited with helping to bring down Richard Nixon’s presidency: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
Bernstein found himself in the president’s crosshairs after publishing a July 27 article he co-authored with CNN reporter Jim Sciutto that cited anonymous sources who said Michael Cohen claimed that Trump knew about his campaign’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer ahead of time. Trump has repeatedly denied this.
One of the anonymous sources, it turned out, was apparently Lanny Davis, the attorney representing Trump’s former lawyer in his plea deal with federal prosecutors. When Davis came forward and recanted his claim this week, however, CNN refused to retract its story, saying it was also based on information given to them by other anonymous sources. Trump sensed an opening and pounced.
CNN is being torn apart from within based on their being caught in a major lie and refusing to admit the mistake. Sloppy @carlbernstein, a man who lives in the past and thinks like a degenerate fool, making up story after story, is being laughed at all over the country! Fake News
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
No stranger to criticism from presidents, Bernstein didn’t hesitate to fire back.
.@realdonaIdtrump– I have spent my life as a journalist bringing the truth to light, through administrations of both parties. No taunt will diminish my commitment to that mission, which is the essential role of a free press. @CNN stands by its story, and I stand by my reporting.
— Carl Bernstein (@carlbernstein) August 30, 2018
Trump’s mention of “fake books” is a clue about how much anxiety the Sept. 11 release of Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House” is causing in the West Wing. Riding out the Omarosa Manigault Newman news cycle was one thing; Woodward’s book is another. As a former Trump official told Politico, “It’s gonna be killer. Everyone talked with Woodward.” Only one thing is certain about the impact Woodward’s exposé will have — Trump will be tweeting about him by name in the days to come.
But it isn’t just books and news stories that have gotten under the president’s skin. Trump expanded his list of targets this week to include Google, Amazon and Facebook, the powerful conduits for information that might help him convince the country of its own resurgence under his leadership.
Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people. Can’t do this even if it means we must continue to hear Fake News like CNN, whose ratings have suffered gravely. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2018
Team Trump then complied a misleading video that purported to show Google’s bias against him.
Google refuted Trump’s claims.
“On January 30, 2018, we highlighted the livestream of President Trump’s State of the Union on google.com homepage,” the company said in a statement. “We have historically not promoted the first address to Congress by a new president, which is technically not a State of the Union address. As a result, we didn’t include a promotion on google.com for this address in either 2009 or 2017.”
Trump’s adversarial relationship with the media and its internet enablers has long been shared by conservatives. That distrust has become an article of faith among Republicans, and the president often portrays stories critical of his administration as a threat to progress itself. Though special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to pile up guilty verdicts, plea deals and what some see as clear evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election, Trump says he is not in jeopardy because the continued strength of the economy.
“I don’t think they can impeach somebody that’s doing a great job,” Trump said Thursday in a White House interview with Bloomberg News. “You look at the economy, you look at jobs, you look at foreign, what’s going on with other countries. You look at trade deals. I’m doing a great job.”
Just as Trump uses Twitter to offer his unfiltered version of reality to the world, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been busy writing an “counter-report” — to the one Mueller may eventually release — to reveal whether the “initiation of the investigation was … legitimate or not.”
Trump’s difficulties with the media are so pronounced that just hours after his sit-down with Bloomberg, the president said Michael Bloomberg’s company had violated an unwritten agreement in releasing off-the-record comments by Trump, saying he would not make any compromises in trade talks with Canada.
Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED. Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2018
But it wasn’t Bloomberg that reported Trump’s Canadian slights but the Toronto Star, which cited an anonymous source. That has led many observers, including Weekly Standard columnist Mike Warren, to wonder whether the leak was an inside job.
— Mike Warren (@MichaelRWarren) August 31, 2018
The backdrop to all of these skirmishes is that, with the midterms less than three months away and Democrats in a position to retake the House of Representatives, the fate of Trump’s presidency may hang in the balance.
Equally ominous is a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday found that Trump’s disapproval rating has reached a new high of 60 percent, while just 36 percent of Americans approve of the president’s job performance. Among Republicans, Trump’s approval rating has fallen by nine points in the same poll since July. Earlier this week, Axios published a lengthy list of investigations a Democratic-controlled House could launch.
Back in Indiana on Thursday, Trump was also focussed on a survey showing that, among an ever-shrinking Republican base, he had attained “the highest poll numbers ever.”
“I said, ‘Did they do polling when “Honest Abe” Lincoln was around?’” Trump mused, apparently unaware that comparable polling of presidents wasn’t established for decades after Lincoln’s assassination. “You know what, nobody’s been able to give me that answer, but I’m assuming they did, OK? So we can say we’re beating Honest Abe.”
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