Donald Trump Thinks Things Are Going to Get Better
One can be optimistic or pessimistic, depending on your personal temperament, about the first two days of the Joe Biden administration. He has, you know, an actual coronavirus plan, so we’ve got that going for us, but as for the calls for unity, his opponents are already claiming that his calls to fight white supremacy (which one would not think particularly controversial?) are in fact personal attacks against them.
So there’s some good, some bad.
But if you are currently struggling to figure out whether things are about to get better or about to get worse, you should be aware that one established commentator, albeit one who has been curiously quiet of late, is very much in former camp: Donald Trump believes things are about to turn around. You can tell, because he’s already trying to take credit for it.
Trump has not made any public appearances since his “farewell” speech on Wednesday morning, and I will confess, for the first time in perhaps either of our adult lives, I am thus grateful to Donald Trump for something. But, as ridiculous as that speech was — there is something insane and hilarious that a President of the United States would end his last speech in the office with the phrase “have a nice life” — there was one moment that should give you cheer. It might, in fact, be the most cheerful thing Trump ever said in office.
It comes about four minutes into this … well, it’s not really a “speech” so much as it is “air being expelled from a man’s face,” but anyway, it happens four minutes into whatever this is:
Here’s what Trump says:
You’re going to see some incredible things happening. Remember us when you see these things happening, if you would. Remember us. I’m looking at elements of our economy that are set to be a rocket ship up. … And we made the vaccine in record numbers. You should start to see really good numbers over the next few months. You’ll see the numbers skyrocket downward.
If you can cut the thicket of Trump’s garbled syntax there — though “Skyrocket Downward” sure does sound like a Smashing Pumpkins B-side off Siamese Dream —it sure sounds like what he is saying is: Things are about to get better. Now, he sure doesn’t deserve the credit for it that he’s trying to take: As we had suspected beforehand and found out for certain Thursday, the Trump administration had zero plan for the coronavirus vaccine other than “hope there is one.” Trump is trying to say that he should be thanked for other people fixing things that he broke: It is as if he stole money out of your wallet and, five months later, after you’ve filled the wallet again, said, “Hey, I see there’s money in your wallet now. You’re welcome.”
But once you get past Trump’s inevitable self-aggrandizement, the core truth is there: There is about to be a way out of the darkness. Trump has an undeniable con man’s genius, and he can see which way the wind’s blowing: Biden and his administration are doing all the things Trump should have been doing months ago. Now, maybe Biden won’t pull it off: It’s an incredibly difficult job. Trump is hedging, as always: If Biden fails, it’s because he isn’t as great as Trump, and if Biden succeeds, it’s because Trump set him up. But that Trump took a big portion of his final speech to plant the seed that “when things get better, remember, it’s because of me” is a sign that he sees where this is going. He left the country is such dire straits that it almost cannot help but improve once he’s gone. That he is explicitly saying so, and trying to say it was his doing all along, is the tell. He knows.
I know times are tough. But they are going to get better. Even Donald Trump admits it. Donald Trump, more than anything else, is always able to find the con. That his next con is to attempt to take credit for better days ahead is just about the best proof that better days are indeed ahead that I can imagine. It truly makes me think it’s all going to be OK.
Will Leitch writes multiple pieces a week for Medium. Make sure to follow him right here. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family, and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel “How Lucky,” released by Harper next May. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.