It was a tour unlike anything Americans have ever seen from a president-elect. Donald Trump traveled to Alabama on Saturday for yet another self-indulgent rally, his ninth since launching the tour on Dec. 1. As we talked about
the other day, the Republican is the first president-elect in American history to interrupt his own transition period to hit the campaign trail for a multi-stop series of events and speak at length to his followers about how impressed he is with his own success.Trump, apparently uninterested in reaching out to voters who didn't support him, limited the rallies to states that voted for him
in November (though in several instances, he hosted events in cities that heavily backed Hillary Clinton).But in his final stop of 2016, the president-elect took a moment to explain what he sees as the point of these self-congratulatory gatherings.
"This is the last time I'm speaking at a rally for maybe a while, you know? They're saying as president, he shouldn't be doing rallies, but I think we should, right? We've done everything else the opposite. This is the way you get an honest word out."
That last point -- Trump sees the events as an opportunity to circumvent news organizations and take his message directly to the public -- isn't necessarily outlandish. Plenty of national leaders have become frustrated with "media gatekeepers," and have found value in hitting the road to tell Americans what they have to say. Usually they wait until they're actually president, pushing a specific idea or proposal, but Trump says he has a message now, and he wants to get the "word out."Fine. What is it that Trump has to say? In his last event of the year, the president-elect focused on his favorite subject: himself
Mr. Trump spent the majority of his time focusing on his victory. For more than half of his roughly hourlong speech, Mr. Trump recounted blow-by-blow the tale of his victory, a pared-down version of his stump speech that featured mockery and impressions of the news media, rhetorical questions and the occasional dig at the confidence of the Hillary Clinton campaign heading into Election Day. At the end of the night, he joked that he offered to buy the Clinton campaign's fireworks "for five cents on the dollar."He was also candid, admitting he had moments before election night when he thought his victory was far from certain.... But, for the most part, he opted to bask one more time in the glow of his victory.
Trump reflected on his exit polls, his contempt for his critics, his favorite moments from the campaign, his disgust for journalists, how many counties he won, how hard he worked. "I don't think anybody has ever worked harder in the last month of a presidential campaign than I did," he told his Mobile audience. "Nobody."This event, like the previous eight, was a rally organized by Trump, for Trump, about Trump."This is the way you get an honest word out." And according to our president-elect, the words that the public needs to hear, which he needs to share directly with the public through a series of post-election campaign events, effectively goes like this: "I'm really, really awesome. That election I just won? That was awesome, too."Watch President Obama enough, and you'll notice that he has a habit of deflecting his personal significance when describing various developments and policy advances. They are, Obama has told us hundreds of times, not about him. The Affordable Care Act is "not about me
," the president has said. Tax breaks for working families are "not about me
." The elections he won were "not about me
." Job creation "isn't about me
." Trying to prevent gun violence is "not about me
."For Obama's successor, however, everything
is about him.