This wasn’t an easy post to write. I first thought about compiling a list of the embarrassing stuff Trump has done late in the fall of 2017. But as 2018 has begun, in just the first three weeks we’ve been overwhelmed with news stories; probably half a dozen things have happened this year that, if they had occurred in any other administration, would top the news for six months. In the Trump era, they get pushed off the table within a day.
The thing with Trump, though, is that he seems incapable—”TOTALLY incapable,” as he would put it—of feeling embarrassment. The nation has to feel his embarrassment for him.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few. A lot. My apologies if your favorite Trump embarrassment didn’t make the list.
And make no mistake. This isn’t about policy differences. A reasonable person could compile a huge list of areas where Trump’s policies have failed us, but this isn’t that list. This is simply about wishing we had a president who didn’t embarrass us every time he appeared in public.
So, here we go: the Top 10 Embarrassments Of Trump’s First Year In Office:
10. Out Of My Way. At a NATO summit, Trump forcefully pushes Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of his way, as if to say, “I’m the biggest jerk here; I should be in front.”
9. Premature Celebration. Apparently unaware that the Senate must also pass the bill before it becomes law, Trump throws a party in the Rose Garden to celebrate the passage of the bill—normally the kind of celebration the White House has when a bill is signed into law. However, after not accomplishing anything legislatively in its first 100 days, the administration is desperate for something to celebrate.
Bonus: Later the same day, Trump meets with the Australian prime minister and praises the Australian health care system, saying, “You have better health care than we do.” Trump apparently doesn’t realize that Australia has universal health care.
Double Bonus: After a month in office, Trump had bemoaned how hard it really is to be president. “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated,” he said.
8. The IQ Contest. After it’s reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Trump as a “moron”—later corrected to a “fucking moron”—Trump says, “I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who’s going to win.”
Ah yes, I think we can all tell who’s going to win. For his part, Tillerson has been given multiple opportunities to deny he said that about Trump, and he has declined every time.
White House Press spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the exchange, “It’s a joke; you should get a sense of humor.” Because yes, who doesn’t love a good long laugh when the leader of the most powerful country in the world and his chief diplomat exchange barbs about how stupid they each are?
7. This Rusher Thing. In May, Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. The reason, according to multiple people the White House trots out to speak on Trump’s behalf, was that Comey had treated Hilary Clinton unfairly during the 2016 election, and the firing only came after a recommendation from the deputy attorney general. But then, in a national television interview, Trump gives his own reason: Comey was being too aggressive with his investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia.
“And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
So, not only does Trump betray everyone he sent out to make excuses for him, he opens the door to charges that he obstructed justice by trying to silence Comey.
Irony of ironies, Trump calls Comey “a showboat, a grandstander.”
6. Everybody Knows. “Everybody knows there was no collusion.” “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.” “I personally won’t benefit from the tax cut bill.” He keeps repeating these lines every time he’s in public these days. He practically breathes them. Everybody knows that all of these assertions, and many other phrases he repeats often, are laughably absurd. And nobody believes it, with the possible exception of Trump himself and the bottom-feeders at the very base of his base.
5. “Very Fine People On Both Sides.” After a tiki-torch white nationalists’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., turns violent, with one counter-protester being killed by a white-supremacist terrorist driving his car into a crowd, Trump tries to spread out the blame. “There were some very fine people on both sides,” he says. Which means—and there’s no other way to interpret this—that being a white supremacist or a Nazi doesn’t disqualify you from being “a very fine person.”
And yes, I know I said this list wasn’t about policy differences. And clearly, our common policy of anti-racism is at odds with the president’s own attitudes. But episodes like this one (as well as the next item on this list) are also deeply embarrassing to those of us who believe that diversity is one of the main pillars of America’s greatness.
4. “Shithole Countries.” This one is all too recent, all too familiar as I write this. After a meeting with congressional leaders in which Trump first said he supported a clean DACA bill and then changed his mind, he says he’ll sign whatever immigration compromise Congress brings to him. Two days later, leaders from both parties bring him a compromise proposal, but he surprises them by stacking the meeting with right-wing hard-liners, and then blows up the meeting by questioning why we need to let people in from “shithole countries”—referring to Haiti and African nations.
Norway: that’s where we want to get immigrants from, he says.
Some of his supporters, like Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, later compounded the embarrassment by saying Trump definitely didn’t say “shithole”—but maybe what he said was “shithouse.” Oh, OK.
3. Honoring Native Americans. In a ceremony to honor the Navajo code talkers who helped win World War II, Trump trots out his “Pocahantas” nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here.” he said. “Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time … longer than you—they call her Pocahontas.”
First of all, “they” don’t use that nickname: only Trump does. Second of all, when he does, he’s obviously trying to insult her. To bring it up during a ceremony honoring Native American war heroes at best detracts from the ceremony and at worst, insults them as well, no matter how much condescension Trump packs into his remarks. (“But you know what, I like you. You are special people.”)
On top of that, the ceremony was held in front of the White House portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who is considered the worst president (so far) for Native Americans.
2. Maria Madness. After Hurricane Maria devastates the island of Puerto Rico, Trump first gets in a Twitter fight with the mayor of San Juan. Then, on a trip to the island several days later to boast about the administration’s response, he downplays the impact of the storm by comparing the number of deaths to Hurricane Katrina (both understating Maria’s impact and overstating Katrina’s death toll).
1. (Obviously) The tweets. He is supposed to be the world’s most important leader, and yet on a daily basis he pukes out the most childish, dishonest, narcissistic and bullying tweets imaginable. Anyone who publicly disagrees with him will eventually get taunted and insulted on Twitter, and the news media will pick up the jibes and broadcast them for everyone to see.
Trump’s mind, unfiltered: that’s what we get on Twitter. And it’s scary.
Moreover, in reading his tweets, one never knows whether this is actual government policy being made, or just the ravings of a madman. Sometimes his tweets actually get in the way of his policy. And sometimes that’s a good thing.
News And Guts asks: “Where would he be without Twitter?” Where would we be? The answer to the latter is much better off.”
So there’s the list. I didn’t even have room to mention the exaggerated handshakes; the spending a third of his time on his own golf courses; the suggestion that he has incriminating tapes of FBI Director Comey in the White House, only to retract it after everyone realizes that if the tapes existed, they would make Trump, not Comey, look bad; the “big red button” dustup with North Korean leader Kim Jung-un, or for that matter his trading of petty insults with this nuclear-capable leader who is just as crazy and narcissistic as he is; or even his saying, after he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he believes Putin when he said Russia didn’t meddle in the U.S. election, among many, many others. Perhaps you have your own to add.
And the sad thing is, that’s only the first year.