Trump declares mission accomplished in his bid to make America great again

To hear Donald Trump tell it this week, things have never been better in America, thanks to him.

At a rally in Evansville, Ind., on Thursday, the president took his latest victory lap, reiterating that the time had already come to update his famous campaign slogan.

“You know our new slogan that we’ll be switching to because we’re way ahead of schedule to ‘Make America Great Again,’ right? It’s called ‘Keep America Great!’ That’s what’s happening. We’re so far ahead of schedule.”

Declaring that the U.S. now has “the best economy in the history of our country,” Trump assured his Hoosier audience that America was “reclaiming our nation’s proud manufacturing history.”

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Trump holds rally in Evansville, Indiana
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Trump holds rally in Evansville, Indiana
U.S. President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he arrives for a "Make America Great Again" rally in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters wait for the start of a "Make America Great Again" rally held by U.S. President Donald Trump in Evansville, Indiana, U.S. August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A man sports patriotic attire at a "Make America Great Again" rally held by U.S. President Donald Trump in Evansville, Indiana, U.S. August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds "Make Our Farmers Great Again!" hats as he arrives for a "Make America Great Again" rally in Evansville, Indiana, U.S. August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A child sits atop shoulders at a "Make America Great Again" rally held by U.S. President Donald Trump in Evansville, Indiana, U.S. August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A Trump supporter talks on his phone at a "Make America Great Again" rally held by U.S. President Donald Trump in Evansville, Indiana, U.S. August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters listen as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a "Make America Great Again" rally in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Supporters cheer as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a "Make America Great Again" rally in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump waves to supporters during a "Make America Great Again" rally in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A young girl holds up a sign as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a "Make America Great Again" rally in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump holds "Make Our Farmers Great Again!" hats during a "Make America Great Again" rally in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Trump supporters point out a protester to be removed during U.S. President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" rally in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana on August 30, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump throws hats to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana on August 30, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump supporters cheer during a campaign rally at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana on August 30, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump supporters cheer during a campaign rally at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana on August 30, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump supporters cheer during a campaign rally at Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana on August 30, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
EVANSVILLE, IN - AUGUST 30: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a campaign rally at the Ford Center on August 30, 2018 in Evansville, Indiana. The president was in town to support Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun, who is facing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in November. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
EVANSVILLE, IN - AUGUST 30: Supporters cheer U.S. President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Ford Center on August 30, 2018 in Evansville, Indiana. The president was in town to support Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun, who is facing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in November. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
EVANSVILLE, IN - AUGUST 30: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a campaign rally at the Ford Center on August 30, 2018 in Evansville, Indiana. The president was in town to support Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun, who is facing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in November. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
EVANSVILLE, IN - AUGUST 30: Supporters cheer U.S. President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Ford Center on August 30, 2018 in Evansville, Indiana. The president was in town to support Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun, who is facing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) in November. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
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“It’s never been like this,” Trump said of the economy, adding, “We’ve created trillions of dollars in wealth since the election.” As a result, Trump noted that “America is respected again,” and that the U.S. is now “the talk of the world.”

As evidenced by his boisterous reception, Trump’s assessment is shared by a good percentage of the American public, as the president made sure to point out.

“People come up to me all the time and they go, ‘Thank you, Mr. President.’ Just back stage, right now, people. ‘Thank you Mr. President for saving our country. Our country was in serious trouble,'” Trump said.

With second quarter GDP growth revised upward this week to an impressive 4.2 percent, Trump had reason to toot his own horn — and Trump isn’t known for modesty. “If we didn’t come along, you would have had instead of 4.2, you know it was raised yesterday from 4.1, you would have been in negative numbers,” Trump ad libbed. “The country was choking with regulations, choking with high taxes, you would have been in negative numbers, and that’s what was happening.”

Not everyone seems to agree it is time to declare “mission accomplished.”

When a protester interrupted Trump’s speech, a campaign volunteer tried to prevent a media photographer from capturing an image of her, only to be caught as the subject of one himself.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

For Trump, there is a conspiracy afoot to deny him credit for everything that is going right in the country, and he knows exactly who to blame.

Ironically, this week’s round of blame-the-media centered on two reporters credited with helping bring down Richard Nixon’s presidency: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Bernstein found himself in the president’s crosshairs after publishing a July 27 article co-authored with CNN reporter Jim Sciutto that cited anonymous sources who said Michael Cohen claimed that Trump knew about his campaign’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer ahead of time. Trump has repeatedly denied this.

One of the anonymous sources, it turned out, was apparently Lanny Davis, the attorney representing Trump’s former in his plea deal with federal prosecutors. When Davis came forward and recanted his claim this week, however, CNN refused to retract its story, saying it was also based on information given to them by other anonymous sources. Trump sensed an opening and pounced.

No stranger to criticism from presidents, Bernstein didn’t hesitate to fire back.

Trump’s mention of “fake books” is a clue into how much anxiety the Sept. 11 release of Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House” is causing in the West Wing. Riding out the Omarosa Manigault Newman news cycle was one thing, Woodward’s book is another. As a former Trump official told Politico, “It’s gonna be killer. Everyone talked with Woodward.” Only one thing is certain about the impact Woodward’s exposé will have — Trump will be tweeting about him by name in the days to come. 

But it isn’t just books and news stories that have gotten under the president’s skin. Trump expanded his list of targets this week to include Google, Amazon and Facebook, the powerful conduits for information that might help him convince the country of its own resurgence under his leadership.

Team Trump then complied a misleading video that purported to show how Google’s bias against him.

Google refuted Trump’s claims.

“On January 30, 2018, we highlighted the livestream of President Trump’s State of the Union on google.com homepage,” the company said in a statement. “We have historically not promoted the first address to Congress by a new president, which is technically not a State of the Union address. As a result, we didn’t include a promotion on google.com for this address in either 2009 or 2017.”

Trump’s adversarial relationship with the media and its internet enablers has long been shared by conservatives. That distrust has become an article of faith among Republicans, and the president often portrays stories critical of his administration as a threat to progress itself. Though special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to pile up guilty verdicts, plea deals and what some see as clear evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election, Trump says he is not in jeopardy because the continued strength of the economy.

“I don’t think they can impeach somebody that’s doing a great job,” Trump said Thursday in a White House interview with Bloomberg News. “You look at the economy, you look at jobs, you look at foreign, what’s going on with other countries. You look at trade deals. I’m doing a great job.”

Just as Trump uses Twitter to offer his unfiltered version of reality to the world, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been busy writing an “counter-report” — to the one Mueller may eventually release — to reveal whether the “initiation of the investigation was… legitimate or not.”

Trump’s difficulties with the media are so pronounced that just hours after his sit down with Bloomberg, the president claimed Michael Bloomberg’s company had violated an unwritten agreement in releasing off-the-record quips of Trump saying he would not make any compromises in trade talks with Canada.

But it wasn’t Bloomberg that reported Trump’s Canadian slights, but the Toronto Star, which cited an anonymous source. That has led many observers, including Weekly Standard columnist Mike Warren to wonder whether the leak was an inside job.

The backdrop to all of these skirmishes is that, with the midterms less than three months away and Democrats in position to retake the House of Representatives, the fate of Trump’s presidency may hang in the balance.

Equally ominous, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday found that Trump’s disapproval rating has reached a new high of 60 percent, while just 36 percent of Americans approve of the president’s job performance. Among Republicans, Trump’s approval rating has fallen by nine points in the same poll since July. Earlier this week, Axios published a lengthy list of investigations a Democratic-controlled House could launch.

Back in Indiana on Thursday, Trump was also focussed on a survey showing that, among an ever-shrinking Republican base, he had attained “the highest poll numbers ever.”

“I said, did they do polling when Honest Abe Lincoln was around?” Trump mused, apparently unaware that comparable polling of presidents wasn’t established for decades after Lincoln’s assassination. “You know what, nobody’s been able to give me that answer, but I’m assuming they did, OK? So we can say we’re beating Honest Abe.”

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