This morning, the country awoke divided. Some of us opened our eyes to the thrilling promise of a restored democracy. Others are still scrolling QAnon message boards and other far-right forums for any fake news that soon-to-be-ex-President Donald Trump still has a shot at remaining in the presidency. But in the final hours of his presidency, Trump couldn't leave without one last jab. Sad!
Trump exited the White House for the last time early Wednesday and made his farewell speech to a largely maskless audience of his supporters at Joint Base Andrews. He and Melania Trump arrived at the base on Marine One soundtracked by “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey. Unfortunately, our hopes for perfect satire were dashed when he did not emerge from the helicopter to the second verse line “Some will win, some will lose.”
His send-off was attended by his family, and despite refusing to participate in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch gestures typically observed in a peaceful transition of power, he got his 21 gun salute after all. Notably absent was Vice President Mike Pence, or any of the Republican senators, who have spent the last four years supporting him. But perhaps they were right to sit this one out.
In a nine-minute speech, Trump recounted “an incredible four years” where he spoke about Space Force, veterans benefits, and his 2017 tax reform bill. According to CNN, aides prepared a speech for Trump this morning that included gracious language about a peaceful transition as well as more traditional references to the incoming administration, but Trump reportedly threw it out after he read it this morning at the White House. “What we’ve done has been amazing by any standard,” said Trump. He suggested to his supporters that he intended to remain in political life reassuring them that he will be “back in some form.”
And in a move that comes as no surprise to anyone, Trump left out his two impeachments or his responsibility in the poor management of the coronavirus pandemic, which he yet again referred to as the “China virus.” Of his scant references to the virus which has taken 400,000 lives in the US to date, he made sure to clarify that he didn’t think the US has had a worse go of it than anywhere else, despite catastrophically poor management on a federal level.
Another thing he left out: any mention of incoming President Joe Biden. His only mention of the next administration was that they had the potential to do well because he did so well before them. Trump did attempt a joke about him saying, “I hope they don’t raise your taxes...But if they do, I told you so.” He also encouraged his supporters to credit him for the future success of the stock market. “You’re going to see incredible numbers start coming in if everything is sort of left alone,” Trump said. “You’re going to see some incredible things happening. Remember us when you see these things happening if you would. Remember us.”
As the first president in more than 150 years to skip the inauguration of his successor, Trump, as if breaking up with the US, ended his speech by saying, “Have a good life.” Then promptly at 9 a.m. local time, we returned to satire, and Trump took off on Air Force One to spend his last remaining moments as president in Florida as the PA system played Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
And with that, we hope this is the last time we ever have anything newsworthy to say about Donald Trump.