Donald Trump recently said his bizarre antics and behavior may not be “presidential,” per se, but he believes they’re “modern-day presidential.” In practice, evidently, that means putting on a partisan political show for a group of children.
President Trump looked out Monday evening at the sea of Boy Scouts who were gathered in a remote field, far away from the travails of the capital, and declared that he would not talk about politics.
“Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?” he asked.
As it turns out, Donald Trump wants to speak about politics when he’s in front of the Boy Scouts.
The rules of the Boy Scouts appear to discourage participation in partisan political events, but Trump just couldn’t seem to help himself. He spent his time yesterday lashing out at journalists, pollsters, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Affordable Care Act.
Trump celebrated the 2016 electoral-college map, promised the restoration of “Merry Christmas,” and threatened to fire his HHS secretary if the Republican health care plan didn’t pass Congress.
If it sounds like I’m describing a Trump campaign rally, it’s because, in effect, I am. From Trump’s perspective, that’s precisely what his appearance was supposed to be.
Daniel Dale highlighted the 17 “most jaw-dropping moments” from the president’s appearance, which included a meandering five-minute story about developer William Levitt:
“He sold his company for a tremendous amount of money and he went out and bought a big yacht and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that because you’re Boy Scouts, I’m not going to tell you what he did – should I tell you? Should I tell you? Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life, you know life.”
He continued: “What happened is he bought back his company and he bought back a lot of empty land … and in the end he failed and he failed badly. He lost all of his money, he went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party. And it was very sad. Because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross. Steve Ross, he was one of the great people. He came and…”
Even for Trump, this was a deeply strange spectacle, but it was a reminder that his impulse control effectively does not exist. He saw a supportive audience and immediately launched into Trump Mode, indifferent to the fact that he was speaking to a group of children.
This keeps happening. Trump’s comments at the commissioning of the USS Ford were obviously inappropriate. So were his remarks at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service. So was his speech to graduating cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
If this is what it means to be “modern-day presidential,” I like the old version better.