Countless times over the last four years, cable-news pundits have strained to give Donald Trump credit for acting somewhat like a “normal” president, from CNN’s Van Jones saying he “became president” the night he made his first speech to Congress to Dana Bash saying just two weeks ago that his pre-taped video following the U.S. Capitol riot had a “very different tone.”
Now, on Trump’s final morning as president, NBC News’ Chuck Todd got one more in.
Immediately after Trump ended his self-centered farewell speech by telling the American people, “Have a nice life, see you soon,” Todd said, “For him, that was, I don’t what I would call it, subdued is probably not quite the right word. And I wouldn’t use melancholy. But there was sort of an odd acceptance of the moment that we heard from him in a way we hadn’t for the last two months.”
Then, after noting that The Village People’s “YMCA” didn’t exactly “match the solemnity of the moment,” Todd said, “It was almost sort of a normal way for a president to leave, trying to say, ‘Hey, I’ve handed you something that you should be able to build on.' So look. I go through this entire morning and wonder, imagine, had President Trump acted with some humility for the last two months, what this moment, what all of these moments might have looked like today.”
At the same time, he also said Trump is “having to leave Washington in a bit of a humiliating manner, nobody really wanting to send him off, he sort of slinks away,” adding, “I think this town after what happened two weeks ago desperately wants to see sort of a new tone” and calling Biden “the most experienced person that we’ve ever had elected president of the United States.”
Todd’s comments follow a harsh backlash on Tuesday to his declaration that if Joe Biden is not able to deliver 100 million vaccinations in 100 days as promised, “he will have failed in the job he was elected to do.”
And they were in sharp contrast to the reaction on CNN, where Jake Tapper called the speech a “fitting end to the Trump presidency,” “full of puffery and lies.” When he added that it “could have been worse,” he caught himself and said, “We don’t have to grade on a curve. It was an embarrassment that he did not even mention the name of his successor, Joe Biden. And the fact that he is making it all about himself and not about the country at all.”
The typically even-keeled Wolf Blitzer added, “The fact that he avoided saying anything about the new president of the United States was pretty repulsive.”