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Trump runs for reelection on a platform of self-regard

Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: AP, Getty Images

There has likely never been a president who believed in himself more, or praised himself more, than Donald Trump.

Evidence accumulates for this every time Trump opens his mouth, increasingly so as his reelection campaign progresses. He frequently boasts that his administration has been the most successful in history, an accomplishment even more impressive considering the rate of turnover in his top aides and Cabinet. “I have lists that you wouldn’t even believe,” Trump said Thursday at his self-aggrandizing reelection campaign rally in Cincinnati. “I have lists that go on for pages of things we’ve done.”

The president did tick off more than a few items from said lists, including the following:

“I say it all the time — never happened before,” Trump said, recounting his victory in the 2016 presidential race, adding, “We won 32 states, there’s never been anything like it.”

Trump’s electoral college victory (304 votes to 227 votes) in 2016 was impressive, especially considering he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million. But the U.S. has seen higher electoral vote margins in 45 elections.

“They’ve been trying to pass VA choice for four decades,” Trump boasted of a Veterans Choice law. “They couldn’t get it done, we got it done. We got it.”

In truth, while Trump signed a law that amended the Veterans Choice Program, expanding eligibility, former President Barack Obama signed the original program into law in 2014.

“You had to suffer for a long time until I came along. You’re not suffering any longer,” Trump said Thursday in reference to the Obama administration’s policies meant to transition the United States away from fossil fuel dependency.

It’s not clear who was suffering under Obama’s clean-power plan, except for coal miners (a minuscule portion of the labor force) and the owners of coal mines. But the decline in coal employment dates back decades and has not been reversed under Trump; the industry’s woes have more to do with the relative abundance of natural gas than environmental regulations.

Trump spoke as what meteorologists say was the hottest month in human history was ending.

On Twitter the next morning, Trump did his best to reconcile the news that North Korea had resumed ballistic missile testing with his own oft-repeated claim that his personal relationship with leader Kim Jong Un had nullified the nuclear threat posed by the rogue nation.

“...Chairman Kim does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust, there is far too much for North Korea to gain - the potential as a Country, under Kim Jong Un’s leadership, is unlimited,” Trump continued. “Also, there is far too much to lose. I may be wrong, but I believe that Chairman Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true. He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!”

Trump employed a similar tweetsplaining on Thursday when attempting to lay out why the promises he has made for months about a forthcoming trade deal with his “good friend” Chinese President Xi Jinping had not materialized, resulting in the escalation of his trade war whose costs are passed on to U.S. consumers.

“...buy agricultural product from the U.S. in large quantities, but did not do so. Additionally, my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die! Trade talks are continuing, and during the talks the U.S. will start, on September 1st, putting a small additional Tariff of 10% on the remaining 300 Billion Dollars of goods and products coming from China into our Country,” Trump wrote. “This does not include the 250 Billion Dollars already Tariffed at 25%. We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!”

As with his assurances on North Korea, Trump’s tweets on China seemed at odds with his earlier statements that he alone could fix the impasse with Xi’s government.

In his 2016 acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Trump famously declared, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”

Since then, the “it” has morphed and been repurposed to fit a number of issues. Trump has proclaimed that he “knows more than anybody” about campaign finance, drones, TV ratings, ISIS, social media, the courts, the visa process, infrastructure, borders, Democrats, technology, energy and the dangers of nuclear war.


What has not changed is Trump’s gold-plated self-regard. Whether American voters share the confidence he has in himself will be one of the decisive factors in the 2020 election.

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