On Friday, as the world learned of the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” results, Donald Trump held a truly bizarre press conference in Scotland, where he spoke in great depth about the golf resort he’s eager to promote. Eventually asked to comment on the more relevant subject, the Republican presidential hopeful said the crisis “could turn out to be positive” – for his profit margins.
Later, NBC’s Katy Tur had this exchange with Trump at the 18th hole.
TUR: The global markets are down and people are worried.TRUMP: My timing was great because I was here, right at the epicenter of the crisis.
Given what Tur said, Trump’s response was effectively gibberish. The fact that Brexit is causing global financial unrest is unrelated to Trump’s sense of “timing.” And Trump’s trip to Scotland was itself unrelated to Brexit. And being physically located in Scotland as part of a promotional event is unrelated to being “at the epicenter” of a crisis.
And yet, as the weekend progressed, Trump’s message became increasingly incoherent. The GOP candidate, for example, said the result of the Brexit vote proved that Hillary Clinton made a “bad judgement [sic] call” – as if Clinton being correct on the substance is less important than her powers of prognostication. He added that he made the “correct call” – as if Trump being wrong on the substance is less important than his powers of prognostication.
The Republican presidential hopeful has also insisted, over and over again, on putting the word “BREXIT” in all-caps, as if Trump believes it’s an acronym. (If some reporter who travels with Trump would ask him what he thinks “Brexit” stands for, I’d certainly appreciate it.)
Perhaps best of all, Trump boasted late Friday, “What has happened in the UK in the last 12 hours is exactly what will happen in November” if he wins the presidential election. That may be true, but isn’t that a message better suited for Trump’s critics? Why would he brag, on purpose, about causing economic and financial unrest around the world?
And then, of course, there’s the larger pattern of narcissistic behavior. After the massacre in Orlando, Trump said, quite literally, “I called it.” After the Paris attack, he said something oddly similar. After an attack in Brussels, he went so far as to say, “I have proven to be far more correct about terrorism than anybody – and it’s not even close.”
Never before have Americans seen a presidential hopeful so preoccupied with self-congratulation – even when he’s wrong on the substance. No matter the crisis, Donald J. Trump’s first thought is invariably about what the event tells us about the greatness of Donald J. Trump.
In the case of Brexit, it’s especially bizarre. The man had no idea what Brexit was. Literally the day before the vote, Trump conceded that his opinion on the U.K. referendum was utterly irrelevant. “I don’t think anybody should listen to me because I haven’t really focused on it very much,” he said of the issue.
And yet, Trump is once again amazed with his extraordinary timing and brilliant foresight, about an issue he doesn’t understand and got completely backwards. This really isn’t healthy.
Postscript: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was asked yesterday about Trump’s baffling press conference in Scotland. “I thought it was one of his best events,” Corker replied. The far-right senator, rumored to be under vice presidential consideration, did not appear to be kidding.