Yesterday morning, Donald Trump addressed the nation on the mass shooting in Las Vegas, and managed to stick to the carefully written script on his teleprompter. There were no asides, no tangents, no tantrums, and none of the staples of this president's approach to communicating with the public.
Many observers exhaled deeply when it was over, relieved that Trump didn't use mass murder to say something offensive. Some in the media were a bit too effusive in their praise of the remarks, probably because they were pleasantly surprised the president resisted his usual impulses.
The trouble, of course, was that Trump's speech didn't sound anything like Trump. The Atlantic's David Frum, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, explained, "Speeches are watched as well as heard, and the viewer saw a president who wished he were somewhere else because he had been compelled to pretend something so radically false to his own nature."
This morning Trump briefly spoke to reporters as he departed the White House for a trip to Puerto Rico, and without the benefit of his teleprompter, the president was free to say what he was thinking. Reflecting on the Las Vegas slayings and the first-responders at the scene, Trump said today, "Look, we have a tragedy. What happened is, in many ways, a miracle."
He then turned his attention to Puerto Rico's crisis, and the "great job" he believes he and his team have done. The Washington Post reported:
Trump's mixed reviews, however, did not stop him from lavishing praise on himself and his administration. On Tuesday, as the president, clad in a black windbreaker and khakis, departed the White House, he said [San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz] has "come back a long way," before returning to one his favorite topics -- himself and his own performance.
"I think it's now acknowledged what a great job we've done, and people are looking at that," he said. "And in Texas and in Florida, we get an A-plus. And I'll tell you what, I think we've done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it's actually a much tougher situation. But now the roads are cleared, communications is starting to come back. We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks."
According to a variety of media accounts, Trump went on to say that Puerto Ricans "have to give us more help."
Wait, it gets worse.