Sitting alongside these ordinary campaign messages was a heap of strange remarks. First, there were the simple lies. Military spending is not at record levels. Trump was not the first Republican to win Wisconsin since Dwight Eisenhower. His tax cuts are not the largest ever. People aren’t flocking to sign up for association health plans for the simple reason that they are not enrolling yet. These lies are no less appalling than they were in the past, but they have become less interesting.
Second, there were the things that don’t make sense. Trump claimed, all evidence to the contrary, that he is good at getting legislation passed. Early in the speech, he said that his critics failed to understand the value of getting along well with China and Russia; later on, he railed against China’s trade policies at length. (“They have been killing us.”) Trump mocked critics who claim that Russian President Vladimir “Putin is KGB.” Putin was in fact a long-serving KGB agent, and later directed the FSB, its successor. Trump complained about journalists using anonymous sources, something he claimed hadn’t happened in the past—eliciting chortles from journalists for whom he has been an anonymous source. (Anyone expecting Trump to tone down his rhetorical attacks on journalists after the shooting at a newspaper office in Annapolis was, in addition to being naive, disappointed: “Seventy-five percent of those people are downright dishonest.”)
Finally, there was the bizarre.