Geography has never been Donald Trump’s best subject. For example, the president attended a United Nations luncheon with African leaders a couple of years ago, at which he praised the health care system in Nambia. There is no such country.
A year later, the Republican told his foreign policy advisers that he knew Nepal and Bhutan were parts of India, despite the fact that neither is part of India. Trump has also reportedly struggled to understand different time zones.
But during remarks at a shale-energy conference in Pittsburgh yesterday, Trump’s difficulties with geography came into sharper focus.
“[W]e’re building a wall on the border of New Mexico, and we’re building a wall in Colorado. We’re building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works, that you can’t get over, you can’t get under. And we’re building a wall in Texas. And we’re not building a wall in Kansas, but they get the benefit of the walls that we just mentioned.”
There were a handful of problems with this, including the fact that Trump really isn’t making much progress when it comes to new border-barrier construction. The idea that people “can’t get over” the fences may not be altogether true, either.
But the funny part, of course, was the president’s assertion that he’s “building a wall in Colorado,” which is not a border state. (The fact that Trump’s audience cheered this comment was probably my favorite part of the story.) Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) had a little fun at the Republican’s expense, taking a Sharpie to a map of the United States to make Trump’s falsehood true.
This likely would’ve been a half-day story that generated a few laughs, but he couldn’t leave well enough alone. A little after midnight, Trump thought it’d be a good idea to explain why he got this wrong.
According to a presidential tweet, he made the comments “kiddingly,” and in this part of his speech, he “refered [sic] to people in the very packed auditorium, from Colorado & Kansas, getting the benefit of the Border Wall!”
First, the video of Trump’s comments is online, and he obviously wasn’t kidding. Second, we’re apparently supposed to believe there were a bunch of people from Colorado who traveled to western Pennsylvania for the president’s remarks, and he wanted to let them know about the border barriers he’s not building anywhere near their state.
In case this isn’t obvious, Trump didn’t need to say anything at all about his mistake. If pressed for an explanation, he or his team could’ve simply said he misspoke, referencing Colorado when he meant to say Arizona.
But to take this sensible course would involve the president acknowledging a harmless and inconsequential error – which is something Trump simply isn’t prepared to do.
If recent history is any guide, White House officials will quietly direct the Army Corps of Engineers to issue an unsigned statement today, explaining that Trump was right about wall construction in Colorado, reality be damned.