Former President Donald Trump delivered a wild speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, hammering President Joe Biden on everything from environmental policy to foreign policy.
“We had virtually ended these endless wars,” said Trump, in characteristically contradictory fashion.
Trump recited bizarre talking points from former speeches: He said the U.S. should never have gotten involved in Iraq—but at the very least, the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil. He stated flatly that “we reject cancel culture,” though he did not define the term in any detail. He also claimed that wind farms were killing all the birds.
And of course, Trump suggested—wrongly—that he actually won the 2020 presidential contest. “I may even decide to beat them for a third time,” he said, hinting at a potential run for the presidency in 2024.
While Trump did not mention his own social media banning, he said that the federal government must stop Big Tech from censoring conservatives—and if the feds won’t do it, states should.
“Twitter should be punished with major sanctions whenever they silence conservative voices,” said Trump.
Trump called on Congress to repeal Section 230, the federal law that gives social media companies some protection from liability. That’s a bad proposal that would likely backfire, prompting tech companies to restrict conservatives’ speech more aggressively, not less.
There was plenty to dislike about the former president’s frequently misleading CPAC remarks. Trump did make several valid points, however, when the subject turned to reopening schools. Trump slammed Biden for failing to keep his promise to reopen schools within the first 100 days of his presidency, and blamed the teachers unions for resisting reopening efforts across the country.
“There’s no reason whatsoever why the vast majority of young Americans shouldn’t be back in school immediately,” said Trump. “The only reason most Americans don’t have that choice is Joe Biden sold out America’s children to the teachers unions. His position is morally excusable.”
Trump noted—correctly—that even guidance from the notoriously cautious Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that many schools can reopen safely. An emerging scientific consensus holds that K-8 schools have not been significant sources of COVID-19 spread.
Contrary to Trump’s claim, it is not primarily Biden’s fault that schools remain closed: School closures are local issues, and the federal government can only do so much. But it’s true that the teachers unions—an influential constituency of the Democratic Party—are the major force opposing these efforts. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a key ally of Biden, has done everything within her power to slow the process of reopening schools.
Trump’s decision to wade into this battle won’t improve matters: Indeed, Trump claiming loudly that schools should reopen will probably persuade many people to instinctively adopt the opposite position. The reopening debate, like other debates, has become excessively partisan, but there’s no reason for it. The science and the experts agree that we can, and should, get kids back into their classrooms—and their teachers, too.
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