There is no way not to talk about another odd and truly awful display from Donald Trump. We know one of the points repeatedly made in opposition to Trump is that he fails to act presidential. Fails to act in a fashion that does not embarrass our nation. There was such scorn over his behavior that it forced him to address the problem.
Trump said that he can be one of the “most presidential” presidents to hold office at a campaign rally Tuesday.
Trump told a crowd at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, that “with the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office.”
That line roared back into my mind while watching a replay of Trump’s long remarks about the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. There is no doubt the news was fitting for one who had lived such a sordid life. While Daesh will not fold up and cease to exist, as there are so many branches and leaders, there is no doubt a psychological blow was suffered by the organization.
But like everything that Trump does he makes the story either about him or uses his lower brainpower to mess up the larger points that really should be the headline. In today’s case, the news of the death of a terrorist was on an equal par to the odd, and unpresidential manner in which Trump told it.
Mr. Trump nonetheless reveled in the moment, using boastful and provocative language unlike the more solemn tone typically adopted by presidents in such moments. He repeated the word “whimpering” six times and made a point of repeatedly portraying Mr. al-Baghdadi as “sick and depraved” and his followers as “losers” and “frightened puppies.”
“He died like a dog,” Mr. Trump said. “He died like a coward.”
Just a low-class way of explaining the news to the nation.
The opposite way of conveying this type of news can be recalled when President Obama told the nation on a Sunday night Osama Bin Laden was dead. Obama did not ramp up the rhetoric or need to sound tough. He knew the power of the office he held and did not need to roll around like a pig in the mud. Obama sat in the same communication center but did not need to compare it to ‘watching a movie’. It was quite breath-taking to hear Trump talk today about the details and events that led to the death of children. And most important to recall is the fact our forces at the time bin Laden was killed made a point of treating the body with respect, so as not to offend Muslims around the world.
But there was more to this odd performance from Trump this morning.
You know, if you read my book, there was a book just before the World Trade Center came down. And I don’t get any credit for this but that’s OK. I never do. But here we are. I wrote a book, a really very successful book and in that book about a year before the World Trade Center was blown up, I said there is somebody named Osama bin Laden, you better kill him or take him out, something to that effect, he’s big trouble. Now, I wasn’t in government. I was building buildings and doing what I did but I always found it fascinating. But I saw this man, tall, handsome, very charismatic making horrible statements about wanting to destroy our country. And I’m writing a book. I think I wrote 12 books. All did very well. And I’m writing a book, World Trade Center had not come down. I think it was about, if you check it was a year before the World Trade Center came down. And nobody heard of al-Baghdadi. And no one heard of Osama bin Laden until really the World Trade Center. But about a year, a year and a half before the World Trade Center, before the book came out, I was talking about Osama bin Laden, you have to kill him, you have to take him out. Nobody listened to me. And to this day I get people coming up to me and they said you know what, one of the most amazing things I’ve seen about you is that you predicted that Osama bin Laden had to be killed before he knocked down the World Trade Center. It’s true. Most of the press doesn’t want to write that but it is true. If you go back and look at my book, I think it’s ‘The America We Deserve.’ I made a prediction — let’s put it this way, if they would have listened to me, a lot of things would have been different.
Of note, Trump made just one passing reference to bin Laden in that book, published in January 2000. His claim that he delivered a prescient warning about Bin Laden is hyperbolic. His book, The America We Deserve which was published in January 2000. Within its 304 pages, this is the part which deals with bin Laden.
One day we’re all assured that Iraq is under control, the U.N. inspectors have done their work, everything’s fine, not to worry. The next day the bombing begins. One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jet fighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.
Dealing with many different countries at once may require many different strategies. But there isn’t any excuse for the haphazard nature of our foreign policy. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every new conflict.
One more day with glaring examples as to why Trump is not suited for the office he holds. He is not able to conduct himself with any degree of character and maturity that the office requires.
And today the world was watching.
And so it goes.