Two weeks ago, the New York Times published a report on Donald Trump feeling emboldened after Senate Republicans acquitted him in his recent impeachment trial. Over the weekend, the president got around to endorsing the analysis, quoting it in a tweet.
"Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. 'When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, "you must kill him.' Mr. Trump's foes struck at him but did not take him down. A triumphant Mr. Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration, and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail." Peter Baker @nytimes The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!
The excerpt from the article, for what it's worth, wasn't exactly right. Trump removed half a sentence, capitalized "king" for no apparent reason, and changed the wording from "a king" to "the King."
Nevertheless, it was the message itself that caused a bit of a stir, with some interpreting the president equating himself with royalty. "'The King,'" the New Yorker's Jane Mayer noted in response. "Has any American president referred to himself that way before, even in quoting others?"
It's a reasonable point, especially given Trump's authoritarian impulses, though I didn't instinctively take the online missive too literally. Just as Omar Devone Little used to say, "Come at the king, you best not miss," the Emerson line need not refer to actual monarchs.
What I found just as notable was the latter half of the excerpt: Trump is now "emboldened," eager to "take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail."
For the president, this is both accurate and worth bragging about -- which is curious, because it's unlikely the New York Times' Peter Baker meant it in a flattering way.
A year ago, in his 2019 State of the Union address, Trump told the nation, "[W]e must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution." Almost exactly a year later, the president seems to take a degree of pride in his willingness to embrace the politics of "grievance, persecution, and resentment."
It's almost refreshing in its candor. It's also a sign of what American can expect to hear between now and Election Day -- which is 37 weeks from tomorrow.