The deadly Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka were horrible enough, before Donald Trump found a way to make it worse by falsely claiming that “138 million people” had somehow died in the attacks. The real death toll was in the hundreds, and those are real people with real families and real loss. Trump’s ignorant screw-up added insult to injury. But today he managed to screw up the whole thing even more.
This morning Donald Trump tweeted that he had spoken with “President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka” in order to express his condolences and solidarity. That’s an appropriate and proper tweet on Trump’s part – or at least it would have been, if such a conversation had even taken place. Eighteen minutes later Trump tweeted that he had actually spoken with “Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka.”
Not only is that an entirely different person, those two Sri Lankan leaders are political rivals who hate each other. This would be like saying that you spoke with Nancy Pelosi when you actually spoke with Mitch McConnell. The average American might not know much about the government of Sri Lanka, but considering that Donald Trump is the President of the United States, you’d expect him to do enough homework to know the difference – or to at least know the name of the person he was on the phone with.
At this point nothing that Donald Trump says or does is going to change the fact that these people died in a horrible terrorist attack, many of them while at their place of worship on a holy day. All that Trump could do was to say the right things. So naturally he keeps screwing up and saying the wrong things, making it look like the United States doesn’t care about the attacks, and exposing himself as too lazily inept for the job. For any other U.S. President, this alone would be a fairly large scandal. The bar is so low for Trump, it’ll be forgotten in a day, when he screws up something else.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report