A few months ago, Donald Trump spoke to graduating cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and he made a few headlines by whining, "No politician in history -- and I say this with great surety -- has been treated worse or more unfairly" than himself.
In the same speech, however, the president went on to say, "I won't talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet. I won't even talk about it."
The funny thing is, he can't stop talking about it.
Late last week, for example, before HHS Secretary Tom Price resigned, Trump was asked about his scandal-plagued cabinet secretary. The president told reporters, "I certainly don't like the optics. As I said, we renegotiate deals. We're renegotiating trade deals. We're renegotiating -- as an example, the F-35 fighter plane, I've saved hundreds of millions of dollars. So I don't like the optics of what you just saw."
Though the F-35 had nothing to do with the Price controversy, moments later, Trump did it again. "I have a great Cabinet, and we save hundreds of millions of dollars through negotiation," he said. "I'll give you an example. With the F-35 fighter plane -- me, myself -- I've saved hundreds of millions of dollars in negotiating. And that's one of the reasons I don't like seeing anybody even have a question about, you know, flying."
I think he was trying to say that F-35 savings help cover the costs of his cabinet members using taxpayer money for chartered private jets -- as if that somehow made sense.
This week, Trump traveled to Puerto Rico, where he received a briefing on Hurricane Maria relief efforts. After an Air Force representative talked about clearing runways on the island, the president immediately focused his attention on ... wait for it ... the F-35.
AIR FORCE REPRESENTATIVE: We have four major runways that are fully open and operational; flown about 700-plus strategic airlift sorties to and from OCONUS, (inaudible) Puerto Rico to provide life-sustaining support.
TRUMP: Amazing job. Amazing job. So amazing that we're ordering hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of new airplanes for the Air Force, especially the F-35. Do you like the F-35? [...] I said, how does it do it in fights? And how do they do in fights with the F-35? They said, we do very well. You can't see it. Literally, you can't see it. So it's hard to fight a plane that you can't see, right?
AIR FORCE REPRESENTATIVE: Sir, we like that.
TRUMP: But that's an expensive plane that you can't see. And as you probably heard, we cut the price very substantially -- something that other administrations would never have done, that I can tell you. So thank you very much.
Trump's rhetoric about the F-35 has gradually evolved from odd to creepy to you've-got-to-be-kidding-me.