Just moments into Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations yesterday, he started lying. “In less than two years,” the American president said, “my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” The boast was plainly false.
The trouble for Trump is that everyone in the room knew his claim was absurd, and some of them started laughing, catching the president off-guard, and leaving Trump in a position he’s long hoped to avoid: the target of international ridicule.
As the president prepared to leave the U.N., he spoke briefly with reporters, one of whom asked how he felt about the reaction to his remarks. This was his response:
“Oh, it was great. Well that was meant to get some laughter, but it was great.”
Yes, of course, Trump was trying to be funny by repeating a ridiculous boast he routinely tells sycophantic supporters at campaign rallies. When the president responded to the diplomats’ laughter yesterday by saying, “Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK,” we’re now supposed to believe he did expect that reaction because he “meant to get some laughter.”
In the wake of international ridicule, Trump was effectively reduced to saying, “I meant to do that.”
That’s a difficult line to take seriously, made worse by the fact that it wasn’t the only part of the president’s remarks that drew some laughter.
The Washington Post highlighted another line that left some diplomats chuckling.
Later in the speech, Trump made another overzealous claim: that Germany is becoming “totally dependent” upon Russian energy – which is similar to claims he made at a NATO summit a few months back.
The German delegation’s response: more laughter.
The fact that world leaders laughed is kind of funny and frivolous. But it is worth emphasizing the sensitive diplomatic setting in which this occurred. There are cameras in the room that are recording all of this. They caught the German delegation laughing at Trump. The leaders have to know such reactions could be recorded or observed – and possibly even used against them by Trump. They did it anyway.
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump told Americans, “The world is laughing at us.” It wasn’t true at the time, but it’s painfully true now.