Dana Milbank: How Trump is transforming himself into the greatest president ever
Outgoing national security adviser H.R. McMaster, in a parting shot at President Donald Trump, said last week that “we have failed to impose sufficient costs” on Russia — joining a consensus view that Trump has been inexplicably soft on Vladimir Putin’s assaults on democracy and stability.
But we can all stand down.
“Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have,” Trump announced Tuesday afternoon.
I felt similar relief when, even though he used anti-Semitic themes in his campaign and hesitated to condemn vandalism against Jewish targets, Trump informed us that “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
I likewise was not troubled by Trump’s talk about “shithole” countries in Africa, or his defense of white supremacists in Charlottesville, because, as Trump assured us, “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
I don’t share the stock market’s jitters over the trade war Trump started, because I recall his assurance that “nobody knows more about trade than me.”
The allegations about his infidelity and his boasts about assaulting women are not troubling, because “nobody respects women more than I do,” and “nobody loves the Bible more than I do.”
You think he’s foul-mouthed and his insult-an-hour leadership is unpresidential? WRONG! “I have one of the great temperaments,” he said.
And on those occasions when Trump pits Americans against each other by race and ethnicity, fear not: “There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have.”
Nobody! Take that, Frederick Douglass — though you’ve done an amazing job and I’m glad to see you are getting recognized more and more.
In rare moments of self-doubt, Trump admits he may not be quite as great as the Great Emancipator, but, he said, “with the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office.”
It’s a signature Trump move: Don’t just deny the charge but declare yourself to be the polar opposite (while accusing your opponents of whatever you were accused of: You’re the puppet!). He can’t be a racist, or soft on Russia, or anything bad — because he’s the furthest possible thing from that.
It’s all terribly reassuring.
Trump’s biggest-and-greatest talk defines him, of course, and ranks him at the pinnacle of all human endeavors. His “I.Q. is one of the highest.” He has “the best words.” He is a “stable genius.” He has “one of the great memories of all time.” He was “always the best athlete.” His building makes “the best taco bowls.” He knows more about the Islamic State than the generals, and nobody “in the history of the world” knows more about taxes than Trump.
Some might quibble, saying his claim to be “the most militaristic person ever” is unfair to Genghis Khan, or that his claim that “nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump” forgets the people who built the Panama Canal. But to point this out would be to further the historic persecution of Trump, victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”
Instead, I resolve to be comforted by his superlatives, no matter how flagrantly they assault reality.
I was concerned about the flood of international criticism of Trump — until Trump said that he received “red carpet like I think probably nobody has ever received” in Asia, and that his speech in Poland “was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president.”
I worried about his cowboy talk of raining fire and fury on fat Rocket Man and his puny nuclear button, but I’m comforted to know that “there’s nobody that understands the horror of nuclear better than me.”
The rash of ethical scandals among Cabinet members was troubling, until I remembered that Trump’s Cabinet has “by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever.”
And despite figures showing Congress has ground to a halt, I’m delighted to learn that “never has there been a president … who’s passed more legislation,” except for Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In coming months, I expect Trump will usher in a new caravan of superlatives: Most faithful spouse in history. Least nepotistic person in America. Greatest gentleman in the world. Least susceptible to flattery. Most polite Twitter user. Least likely to watch cable news. And the humblest person — by far. He will be, in short, the greatest role model of all time.