MSNBC's John Heilemann tried to make sense of President Donald Trump's "self-obsessed" closing message in an election campaign upended by the coronavirus pandemic that's killed more than 230,000 in the nation he leads.
The "Morning Joe" political analyst was baffled that Trump spent the final days of his re-election campaign whining about himself and attacking random celebrities instead of offering a coherent message to voters.
"The last two days are the exaggerated, hyperbolic version from Trump [all] this fall," Heilemann said. "You know, Trump was, in many respects in 2016, the candidate of white grievance, and he's been the president of white grievance, and now he's just the candidate and president of his own grievances. That's all it is, right?"
Heilemann said he simply didn't understand why the president was choosing to close out a tough re-election fight with off-the-cuff rants about Lady Gaga, LeBron James and Jon Bon Jovi.
"Candidates that are successful are the ones who make the campaigns about the voters and about the future, not about themselves and about the past," Heilemann said, "and Trump has made this entire campaign about himself and about some imagined glory days, that he wants to relive 2016 over and over again. He wants to relive even in the way he talks about the economy constantly, this notion of if it hadn't been for the pandemic, [he] had brought the greatest economy of all time. Never mind that all of his claims are exaggerated and untrue. Even throughout the pandemic, he spent a lot of time mourning the political consequences for him and that was taken away from [him]."
"The last thing that hard pressed, ordinary voters want to hear is a self-obsessed, narcissistic president when things are bad," he continued. "When things are good, voters don't really care what the president talks about. But in a moment of crisis and a moment of duress and of social and public health strain, the voters are rightly concerned about themselves, their families and their immediate future and the long-term future, to see the president engage in this perpetual naval gazing narcissistic, self-congratulatory and nostalgic circling of the drain in the last month."
"You know, there are black-swan events in politics and things happen, but, boy, if Donald Trump can win this way, I think we have to burn all the rule books for how candidates are supposed to operate," Heilemann added, "because the basic precepts a candidate is supposed to be, he's disregarding them, and I just don't see how this is a winning formula, and if it is, I don't understand how this works anymore."