American businessman Donald Trump leaves the stage after addressing the American Conservative Union's 42nd Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 27, 2015.
Photo by Pete Marovich/EPA

For Donald Trump at CPAC, it’s still 2016

During Donald Trump’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today, it was tempting to check the calendar to make sure we weren’t watching a speech from last year. This was one of the more memorable moments of the presidential appearance:
TRUMP: The forgotten men and women of America will be forgotten no longer…. Hillary called them deplorable. They’re not deplorable.

AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!
That’s right, nearly four months after Election Day, over a month after Inauguration Day, and with Team Trump facing a multi-agency investigation, far-right activists still have the same old, Pavlovian reaction to even a passing reference to Hillary Clinton.

As the president made clear today, we remain stuck in 2016 – a year Trump seems to long for now that his presidency is off to such a disastrous start. At CPAC, the Republican reflected on his primary rivals, which pre-election polls he liked best, and the budget sequester that he still doesn’t know how to pronounce.

Trump even made multiple references to “super-delegates,” and alleged a conspiracy against Bernie Sanders that never existed in reality.

Repeating a familiar line, the president also declared, “By the way, you folks are in here – this place is packed, there are lines that go back six blocks and I tell you that because you won’t read about it, OK. But there are lines that go back six blocks.” Trump used to use nearly identical boasts on the campaign trail, but outside of CPAC this morning, these lines existed only in his imagination. You won’t read about it because it’s fantasy.

He’s like the boy who doesn’t want to grow up and face adult responsibilities, except in this case, it’s the 70-year-old president who doesn’t want to let go of the campaign and face governing responsibilities.

Indeed, Trump bolstered the thesis by making clear he has no real sense of the policies unfolding around him. He insisted, for example, that “Obamacare covers very few people,” which is ridiculous. He added that he’s authorized the construction of Keystone XL, which isn’t what his executive order actually did.

Referring to his dream of building a border wall, Trump declared, “We’re building the wall. In fact, it’s going to start soon. Way ahead of schedule, way ahead of schedule. Way, way, way ahead of schedule.” In reality, there is no schedule, and construction may never actually happen.

The CPAC audience ate it up anyway. It was a post-reality speech for a post-reality crowd.