I didn’t intend to return to the story about Donald Trump and the Special Olympics, but the president doubled-down on the mini-controversy in a bizarre way the other day.
To briefly recap, the White House budget, for the third consecutive year, tried to eliminate all federal funding for the Special Olympics. Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, fielded some questions from lawmakers about this last week, and she didn’t fare especially well.
Soon after, Trump denounced his own plan, threw DeVos under the bus, and announced that he’d “just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics” – which was, among other things, badly at odds with how the federal budget process works.
On Friday afternoon, in response to a question on cancelled North Korea sanctions, Trump returned to the subject unprompted.
Q: Were you upset that your Treasury Department put those sanctions in place? Did they run those past you first?
TRUMP: Not at all. Because they were intended to go. People thought that they would go at that time. They had the right to do that. I just decided that I would not let it happen. In a certain way, it’s like the Special Olympics. For many years, it hasn’t been approved, and then at some point it gets negotiated out in Congress. Well, I went out and I said we’re going to have funding for the Special Olympics. So that’s why I approved that.
None of this makes any sense. For one thing, Trump made it sound like he was the one who rescued Special Olympics funding, when in reality, it was his own budget that called for the total elimination of all federal funding for the program.
When he said he “approved” the funding, what he apparently means is that he rejected his own proposal, which Congress was poised to ignore anyway.
But what’s especially jarring was the assertion, “For many years, it hasn’t been approved.”
There was some ambiguity in the phrasing – communication isn’t his strong suit – but if the president believes Special Olympics funding wasn’t approved until he came along, that’s outrageously false. If, however, he believes his plan to cut the programs funding wasn’t approved, that’s true – but in context, it would be a strange thing to brag about.
As for Trump drawing a comparison between North Korea and the Special Olympics, I don’t even know what to tell you.
Postscript: The Washington Post had a good related report the other day about the president routinely trying to swoop in to solve the problems he created.