Eager to arrest his sliding poll numbers, US president Donald Trump is pulling out all the stops – but his latest stunt on the lawn in front of the White House has left some observers rather perplexed.
In a speech Friday morning, AEST, Mr Trump made some soaring promises and extolled his administration’s cutting of regulations.
However it was the not-so-subtle display in the background that had people talking.
On South Lawn, WH seeks to make a political point by setting up a crane lifting the weights of regulation from the bed of a "red" truck, while showing the burden of regulations weighing down a "blue" truck. pic.twitter.com/OoWmRPnWum
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 16, 2020
The White House erected a crane to lift heavy weights off the back of a red ute, parked next to a blue ute weighed down by the same weights – the colours ostensibly denoting the Republican and Democrat parties. In this visual metaphor, Trump is the crane.
A number of journalists and commentators online described the scene as “theatre of the absurd” and “embarrassing”.
“Every day I think I've seen the dumbest things imaginable, and it still gets dumber,” history journalist Patrick Wyman posted on Twitter in reaction.
“A never-ending vortex of impossibly stupid s***.”
Trump winds back historic environmental reforms
Mr Trump used the speech to spruik regulatory reform, including the removal of environmental red tape. Addressing the small crowd of reporters and staff, he touted the removal of water saving measures and the return of inefficient light bulbs as his administration winds back environmental regulations.
“We made it so dishwashers now have a lot more water, and in many places, in most places of the country, water is not a problem ... it's called rain,” he said.
“And old fashioned incandescent lightbulbs, I brought them back ... They’re better and much cheaper.”
This morning’s speech comes a day after the US president revealed he is rolling back a foundational Nixon-era environmental act that is credited with keeping big construction projects from harming the environment and ensuring there is public input on major projects.
The 1970 law changed environmental oversight in the United States by requiring federal agencies to consider whether a project would harm the air, land, water or wildlife, and giving the public the right of review and input.
Mr Trump said slashing the long-standing environmental regulations was about returning the country to “nation building”.
Environmental groups say the regulatory rollbacks threaten public health and make it harder to curb global warming.
“Donald Trump is taking away the last lines of defence for front-line communities, and continues to demonstrate a total disregard for our environment and for those demanding racial and environmental justice,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
With less than four months until the presidential election, Mr Trump says he will be ramping up the announcements.
The president claimed he will be announcing “many exciting things” over the coming two months. “Things that nobody has even contemplated, thought about, thought possible ... with levels of detail and levels of thought that a lot of people believed very strongly we didn't have in this country.”
After cancelling a recent rally, Mr Trump signalled that he would be using the White House as the setting for what many expect to be campaign-like events, in another convention the US president has discarded.
Democrat candidate Joe Biden currently holds a commanding lead in the average of national polls, and crucially leads in a handful of swing states.
Coronavirus and race relations are set to be two major topics in the November 3 election – two issues which Donald Trump is looked upon very unfavourably by voters in current polling.
On Thursday, local time, the US reported a record 75,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, many in Florida where the Republican convention is due to be held in late August. If Florida was a country, it would rank fourth in most new infections.
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