The fact that Donald Trump is still releasing campaign-style ads is itself bizarre. Election Day was eight weeks ago; the Republican incumbent lost badly; and if these commercials are intended to create a groundswell of support for the outgoing president, he's likely to be disappointed.
But while the effort is odd, the details of the latest campaign-style ad are considerably more ridiculous. In the new, minute-long video that Trump posted online late yesterday, the first on-screen text reads, "Trump stands for America," which is a strange message for a president who's spent months attacking his own country's democracy. It's followed by, "Trump stands for American jobs," which is also weird given his poor record on job creation.
The video goes on from there, making other curious boasts. "Trump stands for American justice" is belied by his corrupt pardon abuses, while "Trump stands for military might" is an interesting choice given his recent veto of funding for his own country's military. It culminates in a five-word message: "Trump: He's what's for America," which is a rhetorical construction so clumsy, I wonder if the president's communications team was drunk when they wrote this.
But what made the post-election ad truly extraordinary was the false suggestion that Trump won a Nobel Peace Prize. As Matt Stieb explained:
In the portion devoted to peace — just after the "Trump stands for military might" segment — the video shows the Nobel Peace Prize Photoshopped in front of a clip of the White House ceremony for the Abraham Accords, in which Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize relations with Israel.
It was strange as it sounds. At the 44-second mark, viewers are shown an image of Trump on a White House balcony, alongside Middle Eastern officials and a giant, superimposed image of a Nobel Peace Prize.
Of course, if Trump had actually received a Nobel Peace Prize, this might make sense. But given reality, it's absurd.
That said, it's an absurdity with a pedigree. The Republican president has been preoccupied to a creepy degree for much of his term with the idea of winning a Nobel prize, to the point that he occasionally boasted at pre-election rallies that he'd actually received the honor. In September, Trump went so far as to whine that the "fake news" media refused to cover the Nobel prizes he didn't receive.
Trump has been nominated for the honor, which he found impressive for reasons that didn't make any sense. For one thing, anyone can be nominated. For another, the White House reportedly had to ask others to make the nomination in order to help Trump feel good about himself.
And when the meaningless nomination failed to produce the reward the president wanted, Trump lashed out, presenting himself as a victim of a rigged Nobel process.
But now that the election's over and Trump is eyeing the end of his failed term, he's still trying to pretend that he either won or deserved the honor. It's a pitiful coda to his presidency.
Update: Making matters just a little worse, Trump's new ad featured a picture of a Nobel prize, but it's the wrong Nobel prize. To borrow a line, can't anybody here play this game?