Saturday, May 30, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to take credit for a rocket launch his administration didn't carry out, approved by his predecessors.

Most of Trump's actual efforts today were aimed at trying to find a way to turn racial violence to his political advantage, or at least to look tough while he encouraged it. But he did have one event on his official calendar, attending the launch of a rocket carrying American astronauts to the International Space Station. The launch, carried out by the private company SpaceX, was significant because it was the first crewed launch on American soil since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

Trump wanted the photo opportunity badly enough that he made two separate trips to Florida in order to get it: one today, and one on Wednesday for the original scheduled launch date. 

In remarks after the launch, Trump painted himself as the reason why the launch took place, saying, "With this launch, the decades of lost years and little action are officially over. Past leaders put the United States at the mercy of foreign nations to send our astronauts into orbit — not anymore."

But on planet Earth, NASA began actively collaborating in 2006 with the private space sector, then in its infancy. The Commercial Crew program, which resulted in this launch, was begun in 2010.

Trump's actual contribution to civilian spaceflight has mostly consisted of trying to cut NASA's budget while simultaneously changing their launch dates without telling them.

So what?

  • It's wrong to take credit for things you didn't do.
  • Past a certain point, self-praise becomes pathological.