Thursday, February 21, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He spent part of 18 minutes celebrating black history.

Trump has had his share of troubles trying to accomplish the relatively straightforward task of commemorating the history of African-Americans, and this year's effort was no exception. Trump began an 18-minute appearance at a reception in the White House by introducing the Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams.

Adams—an accomplished public health official—seems to have been present because Trump has no African-American senior staff. Other than the controversial HUD secretary Ben Carson, who Trump personally dislikes, Adams is effectively the only black American in a senior position in the entire executive branch.

After a few minutes of fairly straightforward recitation of famous names in black history, Trump interrupted himself to praise his own handling of the economy:

Since my election, we have created 5.3 million new jobs. People thought that was -- and I tell you, you know, I'm very proud of it being the lowest ever in the history for African Americans. But today, right now, we have the most people working in the history of our nation. Almost 160 million people. We've never had that many people working. Right? 
Tell me: How do they beat us on the debate stand when we say we have the best unemployment numbers ever? Right? The best unemployment numbers ever and the most people working ever. The best economy perhaps that we've ever had. We got a lot of things going on here. Very good things. And we cut your taxes, by the way. And we cut your taxes.

He concluded that section of his remarks by touting his administration's creation of tax breaks for "distressed communities." Trump has a long history of assuming that all people of color, both inside and outside of the United States, live in poverty-stricken "shithole" places.

Trump also invited Catherine Toney, an African-American woman released from prison under sentencing reform laws, to come up to the podium to praise him.

Why is this a problem?

  • Black History Month events should arguably have something to do with black history.
  • Part of being president involves doing things that aren't campaign rallies.
  • The black experience in America is about more than poverty and incarceration.