The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that over 800,000 Americans have contracted COVID-19 and at least 44,000 have died. So how is President Trump, the man who downplayed this pandemic from the beginning and who bears more responsibility than any other American for this disaster, spending his day?
As part of an Earth Day ceremony, President Trump, First Lady Melania, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence gathered to plant trees. It’s something of a presidential tradition, but this year it felt distinctly different. The president cannot be expected to spend every single second of the day talking about the coronavirus but seeing him laugh and joke while toying around with shovels and dirt felt deeply inappropriate.
It would be one thing if he was competently handling the pandemic, if he had treated it as a serious risk from the beginning, and if his press conferences on the subject were anything more than glorified campaign rallies. If that were the case it would be acceptable for him to take a little time to celebrate environmentalism. It’s another thing entirely for him to ham it up at an event like this while his administration fails to adequately protect the American people.
Appropriateness aside, the event also showcased some of Donald Trump’s trademark weirdness. During his remarks, he went on a long rambling discourse about specimen trees that left some scratching their heads in bewilderment.
“We’re planting ten beautiful specimen trees. They’re specimens, all specimens. People may think that’s an exaggeration or that’s a Trump term. Actually they’re sold as specimens. They cost more money but they’re better. I buy a lot of them,” he claimed.
Why exactly the President of the United States finds the term “specimen tree” so fascinating is anyone’s guess, since it simply means a tree that is cultivated for its particularly pleasing appearance and used a landscape centerpiece.
His bizarre claim that he buys “a lot” of specimen trees can probably be chalked up to his preceding comment about their cost. Trump likes to present himself as a rich sophisticate of developed taste so it likely popped into his head that bragging about owning expensive trees would make him look refined. As usual, his ignorance was painfully apparent.
Trump spouts total nonsense about “specimen trees” and how many of them he buys while Melania looks on pic.twitter.com/sx8MnpAyDT
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 22, 2020
When it came time to use the shovels, Trump wielded his in the ungainly manner of a man who has never had to do an ounce of manual labor his entire life.
Producers know to inform talent NOT to wear heels if filming on grass. https://t.co/MgQJ0QuxQO
— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) April 22, 2020
Trump at a tree-planting ceremony: "We're planting 10 beautiful specimen trees. They're specimens. All specimens. People may think that's an exaggeration or that's a Trump term. Actually, they're sold as specimens. They cost more money but they are better. I buy a lot of 'em."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) April 22, 2020
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