Donald Trump hates to be wrong about anything, even though he’s wrong about everything. Thanks to his ignorance and carelessness, Trump has a habit of misspeaking only to double-down after others point out his embarrassing departure from perfection. Just as the coverup is often worse than the crime, Trump’s pathetic, reverse-engineered explanations are reliably cringeworthy.
In a phone interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on Thursday, Trump boasted about how he supposedly “knocked out 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate” while railing against President Joe Biden’s “stupidity.” Throughout the interview, Trump kept mistakenly referring to ISIS-K as ISIS-X, which doesn’t exist. As Trump was getting his letters confused, he reminded us of his sloppy command of language and key issues.
After several mentions of ISIS-X, Trump finally appeared to correct himself: “And that’s the new ISIS-X, where they broke away, or ISIS-K.” However, rather than admit his gaffe or move on, Trump devised a lame rationale for why he was talking about ISIS-X: “They’ll have an ISIS-X pretty soon, which is going to be worse than ISIS-K.”
Indeed, Trump has an explanation for everything because his divine infallibility carries an immunity even to the smallest language boo-boos. As you may recall, in March 2019, Trump mistakenly referred to Apple CEO Tim Cook as “Tim Apple,” and the clip of this gaffe went viral. Rather than ignore it, Trump spent nearly a week agonizing over the slipup.
After five days, Trump finally tweeted an explanation, claiming he merely acted out of time pressure: “I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words.” The thing is, Tim Cook’s name has two syllables while Trump’s supposed time-saving technique made it three, so neither time nor words were saved.
People close to Trump have also enjoyed playing this silly game. In April 2020, Kellyanne Conway called the disease COVID-1 instead of COVID-19 in a Fox & Friends interview. Mistakenly believing that the “19” referred to 19th variant of the disease, not the year it was identified, Conway attacked the World Health Organization (WHO) for not being “on top of” if sooner because, after all, “this is COVID-19, not COVID-1.”
Amazingly, Conway then added, “People should know the facts.” Then, in a separate interview with Maria Bartiromo just a half an hour later, Conway began her non-acknowledgement acknowledgement. After claiming she knows that 19 refers to the year, Conway insisted she was merely arguing that the WHO “should see pandemics coming.”
America can’t afford such narcissistic pettiness from its leaders, and fortunately we no longer must. President Biden doesn’t stay up nights twisting himself into a pretzel to whitewash a gaffe and massage a fragile ego. Biden’s focus is on what matters, and it’s no surprise he didn’t hesitate to tell a reporter, “I bear responsibility for fundamentally all that’s happened of late.” Real leadership has returned to the White House.