Trump takes credit for decline in cancer death rate

President Donald Trump is happy to give himself a public pat on the back - repeatedly - for his great ideas.
President Donald Trump is happy to give himself a public pat on the back - repeatedly - for his great ideas.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON • It was wonderful news: Researchers reported last week the largest-ever one-year decline in the US cancer death rate during 2017. And President Donald Trump did not miss the chance to take a bow.

He tweeted: "US Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History! A lot of good news coming out of this Administration."

While many presidents have acted as the cheerleader-in-chief for the good things that happened on their watch, the cancer tweet showed how the President has taken the art of self-marketing to a whole new level. From foreign policy initiatives to the choice of music at White House events, Mr Trump is happy to give himself a public pat on the back - repeatedly - for his great ideas.

As for cancer, the record drop occurred during Mr Trump's first year in office and was part of a long-running drop that began nearly three decades ago as declining smoking rates and advances in treatment have led to falling rates of lung cancer illnesses and deaths.

But for the President, it was another message well received by his throngs of Twitter followers, with more than 161,000 people liking his tweet and another 25,000 retweeting it as of Friday. It was all a bit much for Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, a breast cancer survivor.

"Cancer rates dropped before you took office. Hopefully they keep dropping because Congress rejected your cruel research budgets, which sought billions in CUTS to NIH (the National Institutes of Health) and the National Cancer Institute. This is good news despite you - not because of you," she tweeted.

Professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Centre, said there is a sound strategy to the President's efforts.

"To the extent that basically everything in the world that you like he's taking credit for, he's making more salient that your world is filled with positive things while he's president, whether he deserves credit or not," Prof Jamieson said.

Mr Trump also extended credit-taking to international affairs. At a rally on Thursday, he said he had a hand in the latest Nobel Peace Prize, which went to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

 
 
 

"I made a deal, I saved a country," Mr Trump said without mentioning the country by name. "And I just heard the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country... Did I have something to do with it? Yeah. But that's the way it is."

Mr Ahmed accepted the prize last month for making peace with longtime rival Eritrea and other reforms.

A senior Ethiopian official told the Associated Press the remarks referred to a different issue - preventing further tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over a massive dam that Ethiopia is completing on the Nile river.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 12, 2020, with the headline 'Trump takes credit for decline in cancer death rate'. Print Edition | Subscribe