President Donald Trump flew down to Florida this week to witness the first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years. Replacing the long defunct Space Shuttle program, the Elon Musk-led company SpaceX was responsible for the technology used to send the latest astronauts into space, and in conversation with reporters on Wednesday around the time of the launch, Trump said that he’d apparently spoken to Musk, although it’s unclear when. The bizarre nature of Trump’s comments about the conversation makes it sound as though, whenever it was, the two of them didn’t exactly have a conversation full of cutting-edge, innovative intelligence.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk celebrates inside the Vehicle Assembly Building following today’s successful launch of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
— John Kraus 🚀 (@johnkrausphotos) May 30, 2020
‘It’s incredible — the technology, the power. I’m so proud of the people at NASA, all the people that worked together, public and private. When you see a sight like that, it’s incredible — the power of that machine, and the danger, no matter how you figure. When you hear that sound, and you hear all of that, the roar, you can imagine how dangerous it is. When you feel the shake — I mean, we’re pretty far away, but when you feel the shake over here, it’s pretty, pretty amazing.’
None of that is particularly specific. Although he’s the president of the United States, so you might expect Trump to have some sort of perspective on, perhaps, the strategic relevance of the space program for the United States, that kind of perspective did not seem to be immediately forthcoming, although he did get to that eventually — but it got worse in the meantime.
Asked if he’d spoken to Elon Musk, Trump said that he supposedly talks to the tech mogul all of the time, commenting:
‘I speak to him all the time. Great guy. He’s one of our great brains. We like great brains. Elon’s done a fantastic job.’
Q: "Have you talked to @elonmusk?"
Trump: "Yes I have. I spoke to Elon."
Trump: "…Yeah but I speak to him all the time. Great guy. He's one of our great brains. We like great brains." pic.twitter.com/ETX4dg58Bf
— The Hill (@thehill) May 30, 2020
That is not how normal people use words. Is Trump a zombie now? That’s the level of startling oddity in his decision to refer to Musk as a “great brain.” Is that how Trump sees everyone — in terms of whether or not their brain is “great”? That would explain a lot, since that tendency to reduce people to the sum of their parts is a hallmark of racist ideologies throughout history that have sought to dehumanize non-white people.
Citizens have filed *2,600 complaints* against Minneapolis police in eight years.
*12* cops have been disciplined.
— Eric Umansky (@ericuman) May 30, 2020
The rocket launch unfolded while the U.S. continues to grapple with problems like the rampant racism that has sparked increasingly intense protests all around the country and the economic problems stemming from the efforts to contain the Coronavirus, which has killed well over 100,000 Americans.
We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out of state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region.
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) May 30, 2020
Nevertheless, Trump insisted that the United States is actually doing great.
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) May 30, 2020
He commented to reporters:
‘This is such a great inspiration for our country. Our country is doing well. Our country is doing fantastically well. We think next year is going to be one of the best we’ve ever had economically. We suffered something that was terrible, that should have never happened. It should have never come out of China.’
All of that is a stunningly simplistic at best view of the situation.
President Trump: "Our country is doing well." pic.twitter.com/GgKro1M56W
— The Hill (@thehill) May 30, 2020