You knew it was coming.
Even as the early parts of President Donald Trump’s speech at the Coast Guard Academy’s commencement in Connecticut on Wednesday seemed to be relatively tame and straightforward, you knew it couldn’t last.
Sure enough, about two-thirds of the way through the speech, Trump pivoted and it became less about the graduates and all about–who else?–him.
And while he didn’t directly address the latest controversies plaguing him–firing James Comey, giving intel to the Russians, possibly committing obstruction of justice in the Michael Flynn investigation–he did allude to those by once again complaining about all the unfair treatment he’s received, in true Trump fashion.
Here are the most Trumpian bits from Wednesday’s speech.
Life is unfair
Trump began this section ominously: “I want to take this opportunity to give you some advice.”
And that’s when he started treating the graduates like a therapist as he vented about being treated unfairly.
Over the course of your life, you will find that things are not always fair. You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted. But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight!”
The message would have been a bit more sincere had it come from someone with less baggage.
The media is mean!
Lest there was any question as to what unfairness he was talking about, Trump spelled it out for us pretty clearly: “Look at the way I’ve been treated lately,” the commander-in-chief said, spreading his arms out in exasperation and shaking his head, “especially by the media.”
And that’s when this became less a commencement speech and more of a typical Trump rant/brag list.
“No politician in history… has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
Pretty rich coming from the man who spent eight years (and more) claiming President Obama wasn’t an American citizen.
Remember that time I won?
Trump apparently has a thing for reminders that he won the 2016 election (despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton), like that electoral map that was reportedly being put up somewhere in the White House.
And Trump hit that theme again on Wednesday. As he railed against the unfair treatment, he added, “You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams!”
With the cheers dying down, Trump said, “I guess that’s why we won.”
It’s all about me
As if these complaints weren’t enough, Trump then turned attention more fully on himself.
“Nothing worth doing,” said the president, “ever ever ever came easy and the more righteous your fight, the more opposition you’ll face.”
And just like that, it was all about him: “I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time as president.”
“Congrats, Coast Guard Academy graduates! But enough about you…”
— stapf (@stapf) May 17, 2017
Then it was a list of “accomplishments” like getting Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch confirmed, how he “saved the Second Amendment” even though it was never threatened, and, highlighting his repeals of environmental regulations.
“I’ve loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy, chains so tight that you couldn’t do anything, that jobs were going down.”
Not to leave any of his other promises out, he also name-checked the border wall and his new health care act.
This is the Coast Guard, Donald
Early in the speech, before the big “LOOK AT ME” pivot, Trump appeared to go off script for a moment, bragging about how much money he was saving the government.
Said Trump, “I won’t talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet. Or how much we’re about to save on the Gerald Ford- the aircraft carriers.”
Trump telling CG cadets that he won’t even say how much he’s saving them on F-35, Ford carriers. Note that Coast Guard operates neither
— Jacqueline Klimas (@jacqklimas) May 17, 2017
Not to be lost in all of this, Trump’s original budget proposal in March included over a billion dollars in cuts to the Coast Guard.
That cut was later dropped but, according to reports, the Guard’s funding still remains too low, affecting their abilities to carry out some missions.
“Enjoy your life”
As Trump’s speech drew to a close and the president gave his goodbyes and good lucks to the graduates, he lingered at the podium, waving and soaking up the applause like it had the power to regenerate his life force.
Standing there, smiling and waving as he basked in adoration, Trump ad-libbed perhaps one of the most awkward final lines of any graduation speech given by a president: “Enjoy your life.”
Though, in the context of Trump speeches, perhaps it was a fitting farewell anyway.
Cut ’em down
As the ceremony drew to a close Trump was presented with a ceremonial saber, a token of appreciation from the Coast Guard to the commander-in-chief.
And, this time, it was Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly who made the moment awkward, leaning over as Trump sat down, and suggesting to Trump he can use that saber “on the press.”
Trump’s battle with the press is well-known — hell, he talked about it earlier in the ceremony! — but now that we know, via that New York Times scoop, that Trump wanted Comey to jail reporters who wrote about confidential information, the request to take the sword to the press, literally or figuratively, is a bit more ominous.