Some modern presidents have held lengthy press conferences at the end of their terms, reflecting on their tenures and looking ahead to their future efforts. Donald Trump, of course, hasn't been especially eager of late to answer contemplative questions, so the Republican instead delivered a curious speech.
In his farewell address to the nation Tuesday, President Donald Trump attempted to highlight his administration's successes amid the backdrop of an impeachment trial on a charge of inciting an insurrection, while also calling on Americans to "pray" for the new administration.
Even for Trump, the remarks were odd, largely because the words seemed to be written for someone else. At one point, for example, the Republican called on Americans to "rise above the partisan rancor," which was almost comical given Trump's eagerness to create as toxic a political environment as humanly possible.
It was equally odd to see Trump emphasize themes of patriotism and civil liberties, given his overt hostility toward both.
But perhaps the most amazing thing about the Republican's farewell address was his willingness to describe a presidency that bore little resemblance to his own. Trump bragged that he'd created "the greatest economy in the history of the world," which is a truly bonkers lie. He claimed responsibility for the largest tax breaks in history, which was no better.
Trump also told Americans, "We passed V.A. Choice," which was amusing, in part because he's repeated this lie so many times, and in part because Barack Obama actually signed it into law.
But perhaps most importantly, the Republican declared, "The world respects us again." In an apparent message for Joe Biden, Trump added, "Please don't lose that respect."
As regular readers know, it is foundational to Trump's worldview: the United States was an international laughingstock for decades, until he arrived in the White House and single-handedly restored the nation's global stature. He spent much of his term repeating the line constantly, seeing it as one of his most important accomplishments.
But it's a ridiculous, hysterical lie. The damage Trump has done to the nation's international standing is breathtaking, and repairs may take years, if not decades.
In other words, Americans were treated to a presidential farewell address in which Trump, unable to celebrate his actual White House term, described accomplishments that existed only in his mind.
On his first day in office, Trump boasted that it did not rain at his inauguration, even after everyone saw it rain at his inauguration. On his last day in office, he once again asked people not to believe their lying eyes.