Well, not exactly…but pretty close…
But when we watch his speech to the World Economic Forum—an annual gathering of global business leaders and politicians—that’s exactly what it seems like. For instance touting this U.S. as:
“A geyser of opportunity. U.S. stock markets have soared more than 50% since my election“.
It’s not wrong. Just weird. And the fact that he takes all the credit–even though we should be used to it by now–still rubs us the wrong way. Yet almost all of Trump’s odd though maybe predictable address focuses, well, on himself. He alone. Bolstered by familiar misrepresentations and exaggerations:
“When I took office 3 years ago, America’s economy was in a dismal state.”
That is wrong. The U.S. was recovering very nicely from one of the worst Recessions ever. The stock market was already up a lot.
But let’s get back to Trump only talking about himself: when he mentions China’s President Xi by name it comes as quite a jolt, because he actually recognizes some other power than himself existing in the universe. He still manages to make it about himself though:
“My relationship with President Xi is an extraordinary one. He is for China. I am for the U.S. Other than that, we love each other.”
(To be fair, he also mentioned Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, but not by name.)
About the first 2/3rds of the speech is a nonstop boast on how he’s singularly accomplishing what no one thought possible in all kinds of areas.
Then, in a bizarre digression, he also takes advance credit for all good that might happen in the future. Here are his exact words, which we find as defining of Trump as anything he’s ever said:
“We are continuing to work on things you will be hearing about in the near future that even today you would not believe is possible that we have found the answers. You will be hearing about it. We have found answers to things people said would not be possible.”
This means nothing, except to say, “I’m reserving the right to take full credit for all innovations and advances, in perpetuity, whenever they occur, wherever they may actually come from.”
Trump wraps up fired up. Launching into a tirade, vowing to never allow “Radical Socialists” ruin his accomplishments. Never mind that even if Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, et. al., enacted a lot of what they’ve proposed, it’d probably be pretty mild compared to the guiding economic principles already in place in most of Europe. Which happens to be most of his audience. They’re well-heeled so they applaud politely when he’s done. And even though Trump totally snubbed them last year. Overall, Trump’s address was sort of kinder, gentler, and—at just over 30 minutes—shorter version of his typical rally speech.
And of course, between now and Election Day, Trump is going to be selling himself to the American public. That’s what he has to do to win re-election.
And we don’t blame the President for crowing about the U.S. economy. “Despite the fact that the Fed has raised rates too fast, and lowered them too slowly”, he says in a sing-songy way. The economy is doing well.
Nor do we hold his boosterism of the U.S. economy against him. As the Chief Executive of the United States, a big part of his job is to bring in overseas investment.
What does dig at us however, is the lack of recognition of anybody but himself in creating what he describes repeatedly as miracle after economic miracle. For instance, a good part of why the Trump Administration was able to put together a trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and a much less complete one with China, was because of the tireless efforts of an extremely capable trade negotiator: Robert Lighthizer. One of the key administration roles that Trump truly has filled with one of the “best people”. And we’ve saluted Lighthizer for that. But Trump seldom does. (In this speech he credits “my leadership” for both deals; no mention of his chief trade rep.)
At some point: employees, citizens, even subjects will always get fed up with bosses, or Presidents, or even kings who don’t ever share any of the credit.
And investors also inevitably get fed up with a charismatic pitch man who tells them “and you can too!”, but then gives only a runaround in return.
Remember that “geyser of opportunity”? At the same time, if you don’t get with the President’s program, he’s making it known he still loves going to those tariffs. Punitive actions, with Trump, are never more than an arm’s length away.